Chinese Five Spice

Chinese Five Spice Powder brings both sweet and savory to a blend and, as such, it can be used in a surprisingly wide variety of dishes. Everything from carrot cake to stir fries to even your morning cup of coffee can benefit from this complex combination made from — as the name implies — just five ingredients. Ground cinnamon, powdered star anise and anise seed, powdered ginger and ground cloves make a delightful group of flavors - warm, cool, sweet and spicy - that balance each other beautifully. And when it meats pork chops and fresh spring vegetables, a little heaven can be discovered:

This time of the year, a combination of onions and sugar snap peas make for a great vegetable dish and thick-cut pork chops treated with the complex flavor of a good Chinese Five Spice Powder rounds out the dish perfectly. In the end, no other sides are needed, though you could serve it all over the rice of your choice if you wanted. Me? I pour a glass of plum wine and find the nearest outdoor spot to enjoy a meal like this!

If you only have regular or thin pork chops, you'll need to reduce the cooking time by a minute or two. Please don't overcook pork. Too many people cook it until it's basically cardboard to avoid pork-borne diseases that have been in the past for over a decade at this point. Today's pork is leaner and healthier than in the past and it means you need not cook it as long to kill food borne diseases and the leaner meat won't stay moist if you do. So be gentle about the heat and how long your pork spends with it.

This is one of my favorite ways to use Chinese Five Spice Powder. My other favorite is — I kid you not — sprinkling just a bit on the grounds in my French press for my morning coffee. The flavor is simply grand. Otherwise, toss a little in your next batch of pancakes or muffins or sprinkle it on some chicken prior to roasting. This is one spice blend that can do all kinds of kitchen magic, so explore your options and happy eating!

Chinese Pork and Veggies

  • 3 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, sliced into wedges
  • 3-4 thick-cut boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped into 1-inch sections
  • 8 oz. sugar snap peas
  • Splash of rice vinegar

Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and caramelize the red onions in a large skillet on medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently.

While the onions are cooking, season the chops evenly with the ginger, five-spice and salt.

When the onions look almost done, add the green onions and sugar snap peas to the skillet and cook until soft. Just a minute or two. Then remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Add the rest of the oil to the skillet and cook the pork chops on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on one side. Flip them, turn the heat down to medium and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the vegetables back to the skillet and a splash of rice vinegar to deglaze the pan.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes