Thursday, April 15, 2010

Five Spice Chicken with Curried Pumpkin

I think any dish cooked in Five Spice powder gives it a truly unique Chinese taste all in one. You have a blend of all the elements of Chinese cooking with the five spices; sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. The powder usually consists of a mixture of equal parts of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, start anise and Szechwan peppercorns, and sometimes dry orange peel is added. It can be bought ground up and pre-packaged or you can make your own by toasting and grinding all the ingredients. 

My dad use to make his Five Spice Chicken from a special blend of spices brought all the way from China during his many trips overseas and he would use the powder with some salt and marinate a whole chicken, bake it and it was always so tasty. He would use just the right amount of powder for marination because a little goes a long way. Too much and the flavour is just too strong. The powder is suppose to have just the right balance of yin and yang so I guess that you can have too much of a good thing!

For dinner tonight I've made a simple version of Five Spice Chicken and accompanied the dish with one of my fav side dish of Curried Pumpkin. You have a spicy chicken topped off with some sweet hot pumpkin...delish and of course another of veg the kids like.

Five Spice Chicken

1 half of a chicken
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1 tsp ginger, finely grated
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup oil
Coriander, spring onion/shallots for garnish, chopped roughly

1. In a bowl, add the chicken and five powder, salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. Rub in the ingredients into the chicken and marinate for at least 30 mins or more.
2. Heat the oil in a wok for frying. Add the marinated chicken and onion and fry skin side down for about 5-8 or until golden brown. Turn the chicken to the other side and fry until golden brown. Cover the wok and simmer until the chicken is cooked. 
3. Remove the chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Garnish with fresh coriander or shallots. Serve with Curried Pumpkin.

Curried Pumpkin

1 kg pumpkin, cut into 5 cm cubes
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic, crushed  and minced
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
shallots/spring onion for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and curry powder and fry until it becomes aromatic. 
2. Add the cut pumpkin and stir coating with the curry paste. Add enough water to almost cover the pumpkin and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Cover and simmer until the pumpkin is tender.
3. Remove the lid and cook until the sauce has reduced and slightly thickened. Be careful not to stir the pumpkin too much otherwise it will get mushy and the curried pumpkin will become more like a puree. You want to retain the texture and so actually you don't really have to stir it when reducing the sauce.
4. Garnish with chopped shallots and serve the pumpkin with the Five Spice Chicken or as a side dish. 

My inspiration for the Curried Pumpkin was a dinner we had at a friend's place and I think it was one of his mother's specialties. I love any orange veg and I guess this is where Jacob gets it from because when we gave him his dinner he ate all the pumpkin up before anything else!

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