Friday, September 12, 2008

Five Spice Powder Curry

Give me a new spice, and I can entertain myself for weeks. A bottle of Chinese Five Spice Powder led me to this dish. I picked the spice up a few weeks ago at Penzeys. What is this stuff? The ingredients say China cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger, and cloves. The primary aroma, as you can guess, is of cinnamon. I couldn't wait to try it in a dish!

I veganized the recipe to use seitan and several vegetables that I had on hand. The resulting taste was like nothing I'd had (in a good way). This curry is light on sauce. There's a sweet undertone from the sweet potatoes and coconut milk, and the peanuts add a little crunch. Actually, based on my track record of crunchy rice, MD thought the rice was over-cooked again. But no, I'm getting the rice thing down, he realized the crunch was from peanuts and the rice was just right. He gave this dish his highest rating, that we should make it for friends. I can't wait to try my Five Spice Powder in more dishes. If you have a favorite way to use it, leave a comment to let me know.

Five Spice Powder Curry
Adapted from Food and Wine

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
16 ounces seitan, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 teaspoon cumin
a couple of shakes of cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 medium sweet potato and 1 small russet potato, peeled and diced
2 baby bok choy, chopped
1 handful vegan dry roasted nuts, chopped
3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 large tomato, cut in bite-sized wedges
Jasmine rice, cooked

In a large skillet (with a lid for later), heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion for about 4 minutes. Add seitan through salt, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir in broth and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and cover with a lid. Simmer until potatoes are close to done, about 12 minutes. Add bok choy, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato, cilantro, and nuts. Cover and let steam for a couple of minutes. Serve over Jasmine rice.


  1. that looks really nice! I used to use five spice powder on roasted veggies, just toss them in a couple of teaspoons of it with some oil and maple syrup and it's lovely. Hope you find some more great things to do with it!

  2. we have chinese 5 spice, but i can't remember what we've used it for! ahahahaha! i'll let you know if i can figure it out! this dish looks like such a tasty combination of so many different flavors and textures - wow! i think i'd really love it, Lisa! hooray for perfect rice, too! rice is a difficult one for me as well. i am finding that toasting it a little before hand helps in combination with letting it sit, covered, for 10 minutes after it's cooked. rice is tricky! some people bake theirs and have good luck with that method, too.

    this really is such a beautiful dish!

  3. Thank you for this recipe, the dish looks delicious! Another beautiful picture! :)

  4. that looks yum! I love 5 spice powder, great stuff.

  5. I've never had five spice powder, but the flavor combination sounds very interesting. Definitely something I've never experimented with before. Do you think this dish would still be good using adzuki or garbanzo beans in place of the seitan?

    I love the addition of the sweet potatoes!

  6. What a great use of a new spice! I always wonder what to use it in.

  7. I've never tried anything with Chinese five spice, but it sounds like it might be fun to bake with. Is there a chinese five spice cookie recipe in VCon? For some reason, that's ringing a bell with me...

  8. Looks delicious! I love the flavor of 5 spice! I usually use it to bake tofu or in chinese veggie chicken salad.

    I have a fuzzy logic rice cooker - it makes perfect rice every time. :-)

  9. Anna, I bet it would be delicious on roasted veggies.

    Jessy, I've also heard of baking rice, and maybe once it gets chilly around here I'll give that try.

    River, thanks so much.

    Sal, now I do too!

    Jennifer, yes I'd also considered using garbanzos for protein so I think that would be great. Unfortunately I've never cooked with adzukis so can't say about those.

    Thanks Destiny! I hope to figure out some more recipes for it too.

    Jennifer, Stefanie a local blogger made frosting with it - not vegan but here's what she did

    Chow Vegan, those dishes sound like great ways to use it. Thanks for the tips.

  10. Looks yummy! I just bought some 5 spice powder and this seems like a good way to use it! BTW I second what Chow Vegan says about the fuzzy logic rice cooker. It's the most amazing kitchen small appliance I think I own!

    I decided to check out your blog after Bianca at Vegan Crunk blogged about one of your recipes. I want to try just about everything on your blog!

  11. This sounds devine! Thank you so much for the recipe! I was so thrilled when I first discovered 5-Spice, I was putting it on everything (until my husband told me to stop! He was going crazy!)

  12. My understanding is that 5-spice powder is what gives Chinese fried rice its unique flavor. I haven't made fried rice since becoming vegan (I don't know how to bind it without the egg) but I used to make it all the time and love the 5-spice flavor because of that.

  13. Marisa, thanks so much! I'll keep the rice cooker in mind.

    Shellyfish, it is tempting to go crazy with a new spice find!

    Sarah, I agree, not sure how to do fried rice without the egg. But using the spice in any stir fry is a great idea.

  14. Vegan for the PeopleSeptember 15, 2008 at 10:00 PM

    I was wondering what I should make for supper tonight, and now I'm inspired by this. I've ignored my little jar of 5 spice for too long - this looks delicious.


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