This unusual recipe uses a double dose of matcha to infuse tender chicken breasts with a delicious tangy, zesty flavour. First they’re brined in a mixture of matcha, honey, salt and peppercorns to plump up the meat and permeate it with all that aromatic flavour. Next, they’re smoked over a mixture of sugar, rice and matcha, cooking the meat while perfuming it with the addictive tang of salty smoke, enriched with delicate, emerald matcha. If you don’t have a home smoker, you could use a large lidded wok with a rack placed inside – the important thing is to nestle the aromatic mixture of rice, sugar and tea in the bottom, where it can ‘catch’ and start to perfume the meat.
Once you’ve tried home smoking meat and fish, you may find it quite addictive, and you can experiment with a whole range of woods and teas for flavour. Matcha is delicate but wonderfully fragrant, and adds a subtly bitter note to the chicken that stops it from cloying. All smoked food is very rich, though, so this chicken is great served with a fruity, zingy salad of ripe mango, crunchy green beans, nutty brown rice and a tangy dressing of lime juice, ginger and rice vinegar with a little honey. It’s healthy and refreshing but fragrant and unusual from the tea-infused smoke, and looks beautiful on the plate, too.
Incidentally, if you don’t want to branch out into home-smoking, you can brine the chicken breasts in the same mixture for just 1 hour before griddling, pan-frying or roasting them – the salad will still be delicious and the meat will benefit from the added moisture and flavour given by brining.