5-Spice Chicken, Asparagus & Eggplant with Noodles
Time to re-visit my 5 trusted Chinese friends at the back of the spice cupboard again this evening! The blend of Sechuan pepper, star anise, fennel, cinnamon and cloves is just amazing... no matter how "old hat" it may be considered. Food trends come and go, but there are some combinations out there that are simply GOOD. And this spice-mix is one of them!
You may well be aware of the fact that chickens have two breasts- well, this is the other one, left over after I cooked up that super-juicy Sicilian dish just the other night! The eggplant was left over from the Sicilian burger... the wild asparagus simply because I had so damned much of it... and of course, being Sicilian and being a firm believer of "waste not, want not", something had to be done! Something cool, something fun, something not Sicilian! Haha! Actually, something a little bit like this...
I started off by slicing and marinating the chicken breast in a little soy, lime juice, sesame oil and grated ginger. I let it sit in the fridge for around an hour- but that is only because I was so hungry and couldn't wait! Yes, a couple of hours would give an even better result. You don't need loads of liquid, just enough to coat the meat so that it will be thoroughly well-seasoned and tender later on, you don't want to overpower it with soy as the hero of the day will be the 5-spice powder later on when we start frying... which is indeed the next step!
Get your frying pan or wok nice and hot first and then add the chicken. Whilst the chicken begins to cook and change color from pink to white, cut the eggplant into bite-sized pieces and add it into the pan. Toss everything, add a little more sesame oil and chop the asparagus and a spring onion up, ready to go in next. It's all about timing and multi-tasking!
Now... as soon as the eggplant and chicken begin to brown nicely, add a generous shake of the 5-spice powder and the asparagus and onion. Add a splash of water, a last drizzle of sesame oil and a little honey and carry on stir-frying for 2-3 minutes... which is exactly the time it takes to boil up a portion of steamy ramen. You can obviously serve this up with rice too and can cook it in advance if you do- but I was feeling rather "spur of the moment" this evening!
The only garnish I added was a little sesame, just for a little visual contrast... and dinner was served! 5-spice forever! :-)