Chinese 5 Spice is a strong flavored spice mix that is commonly used in Asian recipes. Many people belive that Chinese 5 Spice is so called because it is made of 5 spices. That is wrong. The number refers to the 5 elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Chinese 5 Spice is used to restore balance in these elements. It’s also called 5 Spice because it hits the sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent taste buds on your tongue.
The basic recipe for Chinese 5 Spice is a mix of star anise, szechuan peppercorns, cloves, fennel, and cassia. Many mixes of Chinese 5 Spice add extra spices to the mix and since szechuan peppercorns and cassia can be hard to find in the US, many use generic cinnamon stick and generic black peppercorn. When you use Chinese 5 Spice in a recipe, you don’t want to use a lot of it. With this powder, a lot goes a long way. It has a very strong flavor and it can easily overpower a meal.
When making this spice blend you want to use whole seeds because they need to be dry roasted before being ground together to make a powder. I grind these in my coffee grinder and then I grind my morning coffee the next morning without cleaning my coffee grinder out. It adds a lovely Chinese 5 Spice flavor to my coffee.
Remember when I said I hated plum jam? Well, I lied. Actually, I love it. Well, ok, I didn’t *know* that I loved it. I made that micro batch of plum jam not having any clue what I was going to do with it, then I came across a recipe that I wanted to try: Sauteed Plum Chicken.
The mix of Chinese 5 Spice and Plum Jam creates a nice sweet/salty flavor that plays on your tongue but not too harshly. I was worried that the chicken would be too sweet but the plum jam doesn’t take over the chicken broth in the recipe and the Chinese 5 Spice adds layers of flavor to the meat. If you want to, you can even add quarters of plum to the sautee pan while finishing up the chicken.
This recipe came out so well that I’ve decided to make small batches of plum jam so I can make this chicken again!
Sauteed Plum Chicken
Chinese 5 Spice:
2 whole star anise
2 t black peppercorns
1 t cloves
1 t fennel seeds
1 t coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
In a dry pan, roast whole spices until fragrant. Let cool and grind into a powder.
This will make about 1/4 cup.
Sautee Plum Chicken:
2 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 T Chinese 5 Spice
1 t sea salt
half a small onion, sliced\
1/2 cup chicken broth
All of the Micro-batch plum jam
2 T balsamic vinegar
- Toss chicken thighs with 1 T Chinese 5 Spice and 1 t sea salt. Put these aside and let marinade until the skillet is ready.
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a heavy skillet, brown chicken thighs until they are almost cooked through. Move them to a plate and tent with tinfoil to keep warm.
- In the same skillet, sautee onion until it is wilted. Add the chicken broth and scrape up brown bits. Add plum jam and balsamic vinegar and mix until the plum jam has completely dissolved into the sauce.
- Add chicken and turn to coat in sauce; cover to cook through. If you want, you can add your plum slices here.
- Once chicken is cooked through, serve over rice with generous serving of sauce.