Lapsang souchong is a fascinating tea. People either love it or hate it. I’ve been winning some converts for it at the tea bar, though, by recommending a use other than drinking it: cooking with it.
For those unfamiliar with it, lapsang souchong is a black tea that’s smoked instead of using typical tea drying techniques. Traditionally, it is dried in bamboo baskets over a wet pine fire, which gives it an aroma much like sitting near a campfire. A couple of my pipe smoking friends have compared it to a Latakia tobacco. It’s also one of the primary types of tea used in the Russian Caravan blend. I know. Lapsang souchong sounds like a very strange tea — and I’ll confess it’s not your run-of-the-mill Lipton.
I was visiting another tea shop and chatting with the owner earlier this year. As I was buying some lapsang souchong to drink, she asked if I’d tried using it as a rub. That, by golly, got my mind spinning. Since then, my wife and I have tried variations on several different kinds of meats and fish — and on meatballs, too!
Give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think. If you tweak it for your taste, please share that, too. I used the Cascade Smokehouse from our tea bar for this.
- Four salmon fillets (the ones we use are about 1/2″ thick — thick fillets require longer cooking times)
- 1 ounce lapsang souchong
- 1 tbsp fresh ground black peppercorns
- 2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 cloves fresh garlic
- 1 small lime
- Cut lime in quarters.
- Crush garlic in press and put in a skillet with butter over low heat.
- Moisten salmon filets.
- Grind tea into powder using mortar & pestle.
- Add pepper and paprika to tea powder and mix well.
- Remove excess moisture from fish and place skin side down on plate or cutting board.
- Apply tea powder mixture liberally to top side of fillets.
- Once butter is melted, turn heat up to medium-high and place salmon in pan, skin-side down.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip salmon. If you wish to remove the skin, now is the time to do it. It should lift right off with a spatula.
- Cook about another 5 minutes, until salmon is flaky.
- Remove from skillet and serve with lime wedges.
Give it a try. It’s also great on the barbecue (my wife prefers that to the pan-fried version). And for goodness’ sake, drink some of that lapsang souchong along with your dinner!