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?)
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.