The Sauce: Chinese Five Spice Wet Rub – Fragrant Chinese Five Spice Powder made with star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel infuses complex flavor in this brown sugar wet rub.
‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’
It’s the star
Ying-Ling, my Chinese cooking teacher, babied some Chinese spareribs spooning the liquidy soy sauce mixture over and over the ribs. A beautiful star anise was floating in the marinade. As it drank in the sauce it sank down giving off it’s fragrant flavor. Before long the ribs were tender and infused with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and star anise.
My introduction to star anise was almost 30 years ago. It’s been a staple in my spice cupboard ever since. Star Anise is the anchor of Five Spice Powder, also a staple in my kitchen. The other four spices are cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel. Some mixtures contain ginger, nutmeg or turmeric. It’s spicy but not hot, non-domestic but accessible. It’s a good way to influence roasted meat with star anise flavor because it mixes easily into a rub or sauce and has complexity and depth. Roast a Chinese Five Spice Chicken and serve with steamed rice and crunchy, cool cucumber spears.
Recipe: Chinese Five Spice Chicken
Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 47 Minutes | Yield: 6 Servings | Level: Easy
- 1 3 1/2-4 lb chicken
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp Five Spice Powder*
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Special Equipment – baking sheet, grill pan
1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2 Cut the backbone away from the chicken and save for chicken stock or discard. Split the breast in half to create two chicken halves. Tuck in wing tips. Dry the surface of the chicken.
3 Combine canola oil, brown sugar, five spice powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the surface of the chicken with this mixture.
4 Heat a grill pan on high heat and coat with cooking spray. Place the chicken halves skin side down on the grill until it sustains grill marks, about 2 minutes.
5 Place the chicken skin side up on the prepared baking sheet. Roast in a 375 degree oven until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees, or about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, loosely tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Cut in pieces and serve.
*Five Spice powder can be purchased in some supermarkets or find it at most any Asian grocer.
If you don’t have a grill pan, place rubbed five spice chicken in the oven without grilling. The outside will become a rich golden brown while roasting.
This Chinese Five Spice Chicken could also be grilled on a barbecue. Sear grill marks on the skin side in a hot area of the BBQ then place in a lower heat area to roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Tent with foil or close lid for even cooking.
This wet rub also makes terrific wings. Place 12 wings in a bowl and add wet rub. Toss with your hands to coat wings. Bake on a non-stick foil-lined baking sheet at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes turning once half way through.
- Exchange chicken halves for thighs, drums, breasts or mixed pieces.
- Exchange light for dark brown sugar.
Inspiration – Helen Horton
Cook with Sauces
Chinese Five Spice Chicken
Written by Helen Horton
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: July 4, 2013