Friday, 05 February 2016

It's Always Time for Tea

Our favourite drink is a key ingredient in these delicious recipes

Written by Louise Cheadle and Nick Kilby

Tea-infused beef on a green papaya salad (pictured above)

Serves 2

For the tea-infused beef
1 tbsp yerba mate or Tung Ting oolong whole leaf tea
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (use the juice for the salad)
4 tbsp olive oil u 400g steak (fillet or rump)

For the papaya salad with wasabi dressing
3 garlic cloves
A pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted, roasted peanuts
½ tsp wasabi paste
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 green papaya (about 400g)
1 large carrot
100g beansprouts
Lettuce leaves, such as Little Gem or Cos, to serve

Prepare the marinade for the beef. Place the tea leaves in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and grind to a fine dust, then sift. Add the orange zest and olive oil and stir. Rub this mix into the beef, cover and leave to marinate for 1-2 hours in the fridge or at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/gas mark 4.

For the salad dressing, drop the garlic into a pestle and mortar with the salt and bash to crush well. Add 2 tablespoons of the peanuts. Continue bashing until you get a coarse paste. Scrape into a large serving bowl and whisk in wasabi, lime zest and juice. Then stir in the orange juice, fish sauce and rice vinegar.

Next, peel the papaya, cut in half lengthways, then place cut-side down on a board and slice thinly. Cut again into thin, long matchstick strips and add them to the serving bowl. Peel the carrot, cut in half, then slice each piece into thin slices and again into long matchstick strips and tip into the bowl with the beansprouts. Toss everything together well.

To cook the beef, heat an ovenproof pan on a high heat and sear the meat all over. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 3-5 mins. Remove from the oven, lift the steak onto a plate; allow to rest for 10 mins. Thinly slice the beef, arrange on top of the papaya salad and lettuce leaves, and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts. Serve.

Chicken tea broth with green tea soba noodles and marbled tea eggs

Serves 4-6

For the chicken
2 tbsp sesame oil
5cm piece of fresh root ginger, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed with a pinch of salt
1 tbsp Shaosing rice wine or sherry
¼ tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 tbsp fish sauce
4 boneless chicken thighs (about 400g)

For the marbled tea eggs
6 eggs
1.5 litres water
250ml dark soy sauce
2 star anise
2 tbsp Tung Ting oolong whole leaf tea
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of chilli flakes
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

For the herb salsa
25g coriander leaves, finely chopped
25g mint, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
3 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
finely grated zest of 1 lime
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the broth
1.5 litres water
6 tbsp green whole leaf tea
a pinch of salt
200g green tea soba noodles
200g green leaves (baby spinach or small leaves of pak choi), roughly chopped
350g edamame (soy beans), peas or skinned broad beans, defrosted if frozen
6 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
wasabi paste, optional, to serve

Mix the sesame oil, ginger, garlic and Shaosing together and season with white pepper and fish sauce in a bowl. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and stir together well. Leave to marinate for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge. Prepare the marbled tea eggs. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and gently lower in the eggs. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 5 mins.

Take eggs out of the water and refresh straightaway with cold water. Using the back of a teaspoon, gently tap and crack the eggshell all over, but be careful to keep the shell intact; you’re not removing it at this stage. Pour the measured water into a pan with all of the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to the boil, then immediately turn the heat to low. Simmer gently for 20 mins, then turn off the heat, add the cracked eggs, cover with a lid and let the eggs steep for a few hours or overnight. Carefully remove the egg shells to reveal the marbled effect beneath.

Mix all the ingredients for the salsa together in a small bowl and set aside while you make the broth. Pour the measured water into a large pan, bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the tea leaves. Cover and leave to steep for 10 mins, then strain through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Bring the pan back to the boil with a pinch of salt, stir in the soba noodles, return to the boil again, then pour in 240ml cold water.

Repeat this method twice more, then the noodles should be just tender. Hook out the noodles with tongs and set aside. Add the chicken pieces to the broth, along with any marinade, and simmer gently for 5-10 mins or until tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste, stir in the green leaves, edamame, spring onions and tea eggs – keep the eggs whole as they look so beautiful – and simmer for a few minutes more or until the leaves are just tender.

Serve sprinkled with the sesame seeds, some wasabi, if you like, and a spoonful of salsa.

Green tea pound cake

Serves 10

375g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp Matcha
275g butter, softened
275g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/ gas mark 3.

Grease and line a 25cm long x 8cm wide x 8cm deep loaf tin with baking parchment. Sift the flour, baking powder and Matcha together into a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then slowly add the eggs, mixing in a little flour halfway through.

Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix together until fully combined. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 mins. Allow to cool for 10 mins in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack and strip off the baking parchment.

Serve with green tea or any other delicately flavoured tea.

The Book Of Tea: Growing It, Making It, Drinking It, The History, Recipes And Lots More, by Louise Cheadle and Nick Kilby, is published by Jacqui Small, £20.

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