Now you may think this sounds somewhat odd, but flavouring and smoking with tea is common in China. You can just use plain and simple black tea for this or go for something a bit more specialist such as lapsang souchong or jasmine. You actually don't need a full-blown smoker for this – I just used a frying pan lined with foil with a metal vegetable steamer placed on top.
4 duck breasts, weighing about 150-200g each
1tbsp brown sugar
20 Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
3tbsp black tea
4 servings of egg noodles
6 spring onions
1 red chilli, thinly sliced on the bias
A handful of coriander leaves
For the broth
1 litre chicken stock
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
30g root ginger, scraped and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1tbsp light soy sauce
The stalks from the coriander
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
First make the broth: bring all of the ingredients to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes then strain it through a fine meshed sieve.
Mix the salt, sugar and Szechuan pepper together. Score the skin of the duck breasts with a sharp knife as closely together as possible and scatter over the salt mixture. Leave for an hour then brush off the excess with your hands.
Take a heavy-based frying pan or roasting tray large enough to hold a cooling rack or metal steamer. Line with tin foil and scatter the tea on the foil. Heat the tray on a medium heat on your stove top, rest the cooling rack over the pan and lay the duck breasts on top with the skin down. Cover with more foil and place a saucepan or another roasting tray upside down over the tray to capture the smoke and heat.
When the tea starts smoking, lower the heat to a minimum and leave the duck to smoke for 10 minutes with the extractor fan on full.
Remove the duck and put to one side and let the tray and embers cool before disposing of the foil and tea.
To serve, heat a frying pan and place the duck skin-side down in the pan and cook on a medium heat for 5-6 minutes, moving the breasts occasionally until the skin crisps up, then turn them over and cook for another couple of minutes. The duck breasts should still be slightly pink. Remove from the pan and leave to rest.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles in boiling salted water according to the manufacturer's cooking instructions and drain.
To serve, place the noodles in bowls, bring the stock to the boil with the chilli and spring onions and season. Slice each duck breast into 6 or 7 thin slices and lay on the noodles; then pour over the stock and scatter with the coriander leaves.
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