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Recipe of the month: Tea

VIETNAMESE-STYLE VEGETABLE SUMMER ROLLS WITH SWEET CHILLI AND TEA SAUCE (Serves 4)

For the sauce:
100ml rice vinegar
100g sugar
2 tea bags
2 red chillies, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp cornflour
For the vegetable rolls:
⅛ red cabbage, finely shredded
8 round rice paper sheets (20cm diameter)
1 carrot, julienned
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
Half a cucumber, thinly sliced
Half an iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
Handful mint leaves
Handful coriander leaves
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp sesame oil

1- Combine the rice vinegar with 150ml water, the sugar and tea bags in a small pan and bring to the boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and leave for 10 minutes to let the tea infuse. Remove the tea bags and discard.

2- Add the chilli, garlic and fish sauce to the pan. Dilute the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of cold water and stir this in to thicken the mixture. Leave to cool. Keep in a fridge and use within 7 days.

3- For the vegetable rolls, sprinkle the red cabbage with ½ teaspoon of salt, leave for 10 minutes, then squeeze out any excess water.

4- Prepare the rice paper rolls according to the instructions on the packet. Combine the cabbage with the rest of the roll ingredients and divide the mixture into 8. Fill each roll and then fold up from the front, covering all the filling. Next fold both sides towards the centre, and carry on rolling up. Repeat the process with all the vegetable rolls.

5- Cut the rolls in half and serve with the sauce.

STEAMED BUNS FILLED WITH TEA-BRAISED PORK (Serves 8 as a starter)

For the pork:
600g pork belly, cut into 5–6cm cubes
4 tbsp soy sauce
150ml Chinese wine or Japanese sake
3 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tea bags
3 spring onions, finely chopped
Half a tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Few pinches freshly ground white pepper

For the buns:
200g plain flour
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1- In a bowl, pour the soy sauce over the pork and mix thoroughly. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

2- Remove the pork from the marinade and fry for a few minutes on each side, reserving the marinade.

3- Transfer the seared pork chunks to a casserole dish and put on a high heat. Pour over the wine or saké and bring to the boil, turning and cooking for 8 minutes while adding the marinade, meat juices from the frying pan, sugar, 250ml water and tea bags. Make sure the liquid covers the meat.

4- Reduce the heat and simmer for 90 minutes. Turn the meat again, then continue to simmer for a further 90 minutes. Transfer the meat and juice into a plastic container and chill, ideally overnight.

5- For the buns, place the flour, yeast, sugar, and a few pinches of salt into a large bowl. Add 120ml tepid water and mix with a fork. Add the oil and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about 1 hour (it will double in size).

6- Divide the dough into 8 balls and roll out each one to 10cm in diameter. Set aside and cover.

7- Take the pork out of the fridge, discarding any fat that has formed on the top. Finely shred the meat and place it into a bowl, adding a few tablespoons of the meat juice and the spring onions, ginger and pepper. Place an eighth of the meat mixture onto each dough circle; gather the dough at the top, pinching gently to seal each bun. Leave to rise for 10 minutes.

8- Steam the buns for 10 minutes over a high heat until they have risen. Serve immediately.

TEA-SMOKED DUCK (Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter)

For the duck:
2 duck breasts, skin on
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
For smoking:
120g brown rice
2 star anise, in pieces
1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
30g light brown sugar
20g tea leaves
2 dried kaffir lime leaves, broken into pieces
To serve:
Few handfuls salad leaves
3 spring onions, julienned
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp pink peppercorns
2 star anise, whole
Splash of sesame oil

1- Sprinkle the duck breasts with salt. In a small freezer bag, mix together the rice wine, soy sauce, vegetable oil and ginger. Place the duck breasts into it and leave to marinate overnight (or for a minimum of three hours).

2- Fry the duck breasts skin side down for a few minutes until the skin is crispy and golden. Set aside.

3- Line a large wok with a few layers of aluminium foil, about double the length of the wok (the foil will hang over the sides and will be used for sealing the lid later). Combine all the ingredients for smoking and place them at the bottom of the wok. Place a wire rack over the smoking mix and put the seared duck breasts on top.

4- Making sure your kitchen is well ventilated, put the wok on a high heat for five minutes until the mixture is very hot. Place the lid on, wrapping the foil over it to seal. Reduce the heat and cook the duck for eight minutes. Leave the lid on the wok for a further 10 minutes, as the food will still be in the process of curing.

5- Remove the lid and transfer the duck to a warm plate, leaving it to rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix together the salad leaves and spring onions. Then slice the duck into 5mm-thick pieces and sprinkle over the orange zest, crushed pink peppercorns, star anise and salad mixture. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve warm or cold.

TROPICAL FRUIT SALAD WITH LEMON, HONEY, GINGER AND TEA SYRUP (Serves 4–6)

For the syrup:
250g light honey
3 tea bags
100g fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced

For the fruit salad:
1 star fruit, thinly sliced
8 mangosteens (taken out of shells)
8 lychees, peeled
Half a melon, cut into chunks
1 dragon fruit, cut into chunks
1 pomelo or orange, split into segments
Half a pineapple, cut into chunks
Handful pomegranate seeds

1- Heat the honey in a small saucepan over a low heat. Drop the tea bags into the pan and stir.

After 5 minutes, the honey should be a light caramel colour. Leave to infuse for a further 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then squeeze out any honey from the tea bags and discard them. Add the ginger slices and mix well. Leave to cool.

2- Put the lemon slices into a screw-top jar with the honey syrup and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, shaking it intermittently.

3- For the salad, mix together all of the fruits, except the pomegranate seeds, in a large bowl and add 120ml of the syrup. Toss the mixture and leave it to marinate for 10 minutes.

4- Divide the fruit into individual portions, and garnish it with the pomegranate seeds and the ginger and lemon slices from the jar.

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