Chinese 5 Spice Chicken Stir Fry
Let’s talk about China. Actually, that’s kind of a big subject, huh? Maybe just specifically, let’s talk about Chinese food. Actually, that’s also a pretty huge subject. Chinese food is generally thought of as… Complicated. There’s a chance a couple of the ingredients might be a little unfamiliar to you, particularly the condiments, as well as a few of the spice blends. If you feel like digging a little more into them, we do have a couple blogs on the subject already, like “The Flavors of China” and a more in-depth look on a particular kind of Chinese cuisine “All About Sichuan Cuisine.”
Besides the Chinese Five Spice seasoning blend Chef Jeff is using in our recipe, the rest of this dish would require exactly 0 visits to any sort of specialty stores. Let’s start with why the Chinese Five Spice is so important in the first place to this dish. Sometimes Chinese Five Spices actually contains just FIVE spices (like ours), but others might contain a couple more because the key to really great five spice is hitting all five FLAVORS- Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, and Spicy. When using five spice, the blend does most of the work for you in the sense that’s already balanced and harmonized. Where adding just sea salt would call for you to draw a thin line and taste carefully to make sure you don’t overwhelm your other flavors with saltiness, Five Spice is a seasoning blend that was developed from ground star anise, cloves, fennel, cinnamon, and Sichuan Peppercorns that are proportioned with a consistent ratio so no one flavor can over-dominate (it’s also remarkably salt-free!).
Stir-fry, like Bibimbap, is the perfect solution if you just can’t stand the idea of defrosting your car in these colder months and drive yourself to the grocery store to buy a whole bunch of ingredients you don’t normally have. We used peppers, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, and garlic for ours, but there’s nothing stopping you from using just peppers and onions if that’s all you have on hand! The only thing that’s important about stir frying is just the timing and prep that you’ll want to figure out before-hand: have everything chopped before you start your cooking performance and you’ll get much better results and have an easier time enjoying your dish without having to figure out how to use chopsticks with bandaged fingers because you were too hasty trying to cut up your asparagus in time before your carrots got too dark.
In addition to our Five Spice Blend, Jeff also employed some Arrowroot Powder in order to make the slurry base for our sauce. In case you didn’t read our Cinnamon Spiced Apple and Cranberry Sauce recipe, a slurry is a handy tool on how you can thicken up a sauce and ensure you don’t have any unpleasant lumps of starchiness- mixing your slurry in a smaller dish beforehand and thoroughly incorporating your arrowroot powder in some water means you won’t be left with a gross, semi-congealed mess.
Watching this stir fry being made was really fun. Sometimes cook times on recipes can be fudged here or there to make them a golden “under 30 minute meal” but this one really had less than 15 minutes of action. Your ingredients are going to be introduced based on how long it takes them to cook, so your finished product will result in all of your vegetables still maintaining the bite that keeps this meal fresh and interesting and not a sad scramble situation.
Jeff used some Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to add heat to our dish, but if you’re not a fan of too much spiciness you could always just use a tiny bit more five spice powder to get some zip from the Sichuan peppercorns. Because he used low sodium soy sauce and our seasoning is salt-free as well, this is a great option if you generally avoid take out because of blood pressure concerns as you can totally control how much of everything goes into your dish!
- 2 Tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice
- 1 Lb. Boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
- ½ Red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 Cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 Cup zucchini, cut into matchsticks
- 1 Cup broccoli
- 5-6 Asparagus stalks, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- 2 Cloves garlic, minced fine
- ¾ Cup spring water
- 2 Tbsp Low sodium soy sauce, or Braggs Liquid Aminos
- 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder
- ½ to 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- ¼ Cup unsalted peanuts
- Scallions, sliced (optional)
- Rice to serve with - ½ Cup per person (optional)
- Add 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder to ¾ Cup water. Set aside.
- In a wok or a skillet, heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil to medium-high.
- Add Chinese Five Spice powder to the chicken cubes and mix well.
- Add seasoned chicken to the wok or skillet.
- When the chicken is almost browned on the out side (after cooking about 2 minutes), add carrots and asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the zucchini and bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add peanuts, soy sauce, and Arrowroot slurry and mix well. Cook another 5 minutes.
- Serve with rice and garnish with scallions.