• Yield: Serves 6

  • Time: 10 minutes prep, 25 minutes cooking, 40 minutes total

I have always been a fan of tea-smoked chicken in Chinese homes and restaurants that showcase an unusual technique of smoking food with black tea leaves. The resulting flavor can be highly smoky and overpowering, especially with potatoes. So I infused them instead by boiling them in brewed tea and then tossed them with aromatic spices and fresh ginger. The potatoes were delicious—buttery, with a fine balance from the pungent ginger and tart lemon juice and an unexpected sweet smokiness from the five-spice powder. Prepare this recipe with the new potatoes that herald the appearance of spring; the flavors and textures will be superior. It is a great side to a simply grilled piece of fish speckled with seasonal herbs.


  • 1/4 cup black tea leaves or 4 tea bags

  • 2 pounds small red new potatoes

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt 

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter

  • 4 slices fresh ginger (each about the size and thickness of a quarter; no need to peel first), finely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper

  • Juice from 1 large lemon

  • 4 scallions (white bulbs and green tops), beards trimmed, thinly sliced

Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked - and Fried, Too! Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked - and Fried, Too! by Raghavan Iyer


1. Bring 4 cups water to a rolling boil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle in the tea leaves and allow them to steep and color the water light brown, about 3 minutes. Strain the tea leaves from the brew and return the tea water to the pan. Alternately, if you are using tea bags, drop them in the water and allow them to brew, discarding the tea bags after about 3 minutes. 

2. Scrub the potatoes well under running water. Place them in the tea water. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the salt and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and continue to gently boil the potatoes, until they are just tender when pierced with a knife but still firm looking, 12 to 15 minutes. 

3. As the potatoes cook, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Once it melts and the foam subsides a bit, add the ginger and stir-fry until it is light brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pan and sprinkle in the five-spice powder and cayenne. The heat in that butter is just right to cook the spices without burning them. 

4. Once the potatoes are ready, drain them in a colander and transfer them to a medium-size bowl. Scrape in the spiced butter, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and scallions. Toss the potatoes so they are all coated in the spicy butter and serve while they are still hot.

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Recipe reprinted from Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked – And Fried, Too! by Raghavan Iyer (Copyright 2016, Workman Publishing)

Recipe reprinted from Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked – And Fried, Too! by Raghavan Iyer (Copyright 2016, Workman Publishing)

Raghavan Iyer is a cookbook author, writer, culinary educator, spokesperson and consultant. He is the author of several cookbooks, including The Tumeric Trail, a 2003 James Beard award finalist for Best International Cookbook. His articles have appeared in publications such as Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, Saveur, Weight Watchers Magazine, Cooking Pleasures and Gastronomica. He received the IACP's Award of Excellence for Cooking Teacher of the Year in 2004, and was a finalist for the 2005 James Beard journalism award. He is co-founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes, Ltd.