Shanghai St in Kowloon, it’s the first stop for anyone and everyone looking for cooking tools in Hong Kong. Chances are if you can’t find what you’re looking for on that street, then it probably isn’t worth having. This is a place for old school durable hardware. You won’t find the fancy labels (or a sous vide magic wand), but you will find gear that will last a lifetime.
MY PROBLEM: How do I get that great barbecue/grilled smokiness into my dishes when I live in a small apartment in a hi rise tower with no balcony or outdoor space?
SOLUTION: Go to Shanghai St and get inventive…
I will write a more in depth wrap up of Shanghai St in another post, but for this one, I will show you the small kitchen smoking box that I found long ago. It still is one of my favourite kitchen tools, blackening with age and the smoke is now ingrained for life.
It’s super simple, a stainless steel box, two handles and a metal rack inside. That’s it.
Big enough to smoke a whole chicken, a few steaks or whatever else you like. The choice of smoke is up to you, small wood chips, or the saw dust type, but the simplest way for me is using tea leaves. They’re easy to find, come in many flavours and easy to clean up as well.
I use this directly on my gas hob. No induction for this one. Although, I’m sure you could find a solution for an induction top if need be. It would probably mean dedicating one of your pots as a smoker, as it’s pretty hard to remove the stains and smokiness once you’ve used it a few times.
It’s as easy as putting a small sprinkling of tea leaves in the bottom, covering with the rack, add your ingredients, and putting it on the stove for a few minutes with the lid on, or slightly ajar.
Experiment with different times and amounts of tea or wood chips to suit the intensity of the smokiness you need. I find that the freshness of the smoke changes after the initial stages. It starts out light and fragrant, then turns to a deeper more intense and slightly charred smell.
* Keep the stove/ gas flame down low, as the tea leaves can catch fire given enough heat and oxygen. You want the tea leaves to be smouldering, not burning. Although this has never happened to me, I’m sure it will happen one day. In that case, you can just keep the lid on and remove it from the heat to let it die down. And always USE COMMON SENSE while in the kitchen and burning stuff!
It’s a simple way to add a whole new dimension and a whole world of flavours to your cooking.
AND FOR A QUICK AND EASY SOLUTION – put a layer of aluminium foil in the bottom of a pot and put the wood chips or tea on top of that. Make sure your pot has a lid though, or the neighbours will be calling 999.