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I’ve been in something of a cooking rut lately, struggling to find inspiration and ideas for new dishes. Apparently all l needed in order to get back in the groove of things was a good challenge! When I received an invitation to take part in the Tazo Cook-Off, I almost declined. Somehow, in the bat of an eye, my schedule for August has filled up and I couldn’t imagine how I would find time to participate in a challenge that would require me to come up with three new recipes over the course of three weeks, each involving both tea and a mystery ingredient that would be disclosed to me the cook-off progressed.But, if you know me you know I love a good culinary challenge — of course I ended up saying yes! And boy am I glad I did, because I never would have thought to create this amazing tea-smoked salmon with honey & lavender glaze otherwise. And that would be sad, because this recipe is so good that you should just go ahead and cancel whatever dinner plans you have for tomorrow and make this instead. (And if that’s not enough to get you to keep reading this post, what if I told you there’s a fantastic giveaway opportunity if you keep reading?)

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So I spent the past week thinking about all of the great things that I could make with tea, when a package arrived for me on Monday with my first mystery ingredient. Lavender. Right. There go those ideas! I have to admit, I was a little stumped. I was stuck on the idea of shortbread cookies for a while, but that just seemed so obvious. No, I was determined to go savory with this dish. And I began to think about salmon.The most recent issue of Fine Cooking had an article on tea-smoking that had intrigued me, and this seemed like the perfect time to try it out. I played around with flavors and technique until I came up with the recipe you see here. Which is incredible. The flavors of the teas — orange, cloves, star anise, cinnamon — permeate the salmon and give it an amazing flavor. The honey and lavender give it a floral sweetness that just works. And smoking it gives it the most amazing texture — silky and smooth, yet still flakey and fully cooked. I’ve really never had anything like it before, but this is definitely a technique that I’ll be using again and again.

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Tea-Smoked Salmon with Honey & Lavender Glaze

  • 2 bags Tazo chai tea
  • 1 bag Tazo wild sweet orange tea
  • 2 Tbs dry rice
  • 2 Tbs light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbs dried culinary lavender
  • 8 ounces sockeye salmon
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Heat your grill to medium-high.

While the grill heats, prepare the smoking packet by dumpling the contents of the tea bags, the rice, and the brown sugar onto a sheet of tinfoil. Sprinkle the tea with a few drops of water (less than 1/4 teaspoon — just enough so that it’s barely damp). Loosely fold the foil around the ingredients to form a flat packet. Place the packet directly on the coals/burner of the heated grill (under the grate). Close the lid and wait 10 minutes for the packet to begin to create smoke.

Pat the salmon dry and brush with the olive oil. Add to the grill, skin-side up, away from direct heat — if your grill has an upper rack, that’s the perfect place for it. Close the lid and let cook for 5 minutes. Flip and let cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until it’s cooked to your liking.

Meanwhile, add the honey and lavender to a small saucepan set over low heat. Heat through until the honey melts and becomes very thin. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Brush the glaze over the salmon just prior to serving.

Serves 2.

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So, what was that I mentioned about a giveaway? Well, this is a cook-off, which implies that I’m trying to win something too, right? Well, to help me win you need to vote. And to vote, you need to leave a comment on my Tazo posts (you don’t need a blog in order to comment — just a valid e-mail address). That’s where the prize comes in. Just in case you need more motivation to leave a comment than to help me out and give me a glimmer of hope in being able to compete against the “popular girls” I’ll pick one commenter from my upcoming Tazo posts (this is #1 of 3) to be the lucky recipient of 12 boxes of Tazo teas as well as a fantastic kit full of tea-brewing essentials. (Anyone is free to comment, but I can only send the prize to you if you live in the US. Their rules – sorry!)

Ready…. Set…. Comment!

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PS – See that casserole up there? Right up there with the salmon in terms of flavor and all-around awesomeness. That recipe will be coming up next. You won’t want to miss it!

I was provided with a selection of Tazo teas and culinary lavender to use as inspiration in this challenge. I have no affiliation with Tazo or Starbucks, and any opinions stated above are my own.

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