Wok-Smoked Chicken
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 whole chicken, trimmed of excess fat, or 3 to 4 pounds chicken parts
  • 2 green onions, trimmed and halved
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 1 pod star anise
  • 1/4 cup tea leaves
  • 1/4 cup raw rice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crumbled
Time Estimates

Prep time: 30 min, plus 8 hours for marinating  

Cook time: 1 hr  

Total time: 1 hr 30 min  


  1. Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry skillet until fragrant. Grind to a powder in a mortar or spice grinder and combine with the salt. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Rub the salt mixture all over the chicken, inside and out. Marinate 8 hours to overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. To steam the chicken, you will need a wok, covered roaster, or other large covered pan with a rack that will hold the chicken in a deep plate or glass pie pan an inch or so above boiling water. Drain the chicken, put the green onion, ginger, and star anise in the cavity, and place it breast side up on a plate. (If cooking chicken parts, just add the other ingredients to the plate.) Bring the water in the steamer to a boil, add the chicken on its plate, cover, and steam until the juices show just a trace of pink, about 30 minutes for a whole fryer and 20 minutes for cut-up parts. Remove the chicken from the steamer and let it cool slightly before smoking, or refrigerate overnight. Reserve the (rather salty) juices for another purpose.
  3. Line a wok and its lid with heavy-duty aluminum foil, letting the excess hang over the edges for now. Set a small wire rack (round or square, whatever will hold the chicken an inch or two off the bottom) in the wok. Combine the tea, rice, sugar, and cinnamon and scatter into the space under the rack. Lay the chicken breast side up on the rack, and turn the heat under the wok to medium. Turn on the kitchen fan if you have one, or open up the kitchen windows for ventilation. In a few minutes the sugar and rice will begin to smolder. At this point, cover the wok and crimp the edges of the 2 sheets of foil together. Leave a tiny gap for the smoke to vent so you can monitor the heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand another 5 minutes, then uncrimp the foil and remove the lid. Remove the chicken and the rack and promptly wrap up the burnt stuff in the foil. Let the package cool before putting it in the trash.
  4. Serve the chicken warm or cool, carved into pieces Western style or hacked into sections through the bone with a cleaver, Chinese style.


Makes 4 to 6 servings

Good to know

Smoked chicken is delicious warm from the smoker, but it’s also useful days later in salads such Warm Escarole Salad with Smoked Chicken or as cold picnic food.

Which beer should I drink with this?

Amber or pale ale


1. Stovetop smoking in a wok can be the sole method of cooking smaller pieces of meat, like Hunan "Smoked" Pork with Leeks, but larger pieces like a whole chicken generally need a preliminary cooking by some other method, with the smoking mainly as a flavor step.

The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook 

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

Photo: Cone 6 Productions/Jupiterimages