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Five Spice Roasted Chicken

A creation that came about when I was craving something like Taiwanese 3-cup chicken but didn’t have rice wine. Although, this turned out quite different as the star of the show is Chinese five-spice powder, it still hit the spot. This recipe is very customizable to your tastes; you can add as much or as little as you like of everything listed in the ingredients. The key to this recipe is letting the chicken marinate a looong time; the flavours really need to penetrate the chicken. Serve with steamy rice, or shred the chicken and make five-spice chicken baos!

Serves 3-4


1 kg chicken (bone-in)


2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp dark soy sauce/mushroom soy sauce

2 tbsp sweetener (sugar, honey, agave)

1 tbsp Chinese five spice powder

3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated

2 cm piece of ginger, finely minced or grated

1 tsp white or black pepper

fresh or dried chili, to taste (optional)

1 onion or 1 stalk green onion (white and light green parts), chopped into large chunks

garnish (optional):

green onion, sliced thinly

cilantro, chopped coarsely

  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients, mix well and pour over the chicken pieces. Cover and let marinate a minimum of 3-4 hours, preferably overnight. 
  2. Put the chicken pieces (skin side up) baking dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover (or use foil) and bake at 200°C for 1.5-2 hours, or until the meat pulls away from the bone and is very tender. Baste every 30-40 minutes with the juices that accumulate at the bottom of the baking dish. After about 1 hour of cooking, taste the juices at the bottom of the baking dish. Adjust salt, sugar, spice and five spice until the sauce tastes the way you like it. 
  3. Uncover and bake at 250°C for 15-20 minutes until the chicken pieces have browned to your liking.
  4. Garnish with cilantro and sliced green onion, if you like.
  5. Serve over rice. 

All the ingredient amounts given here are very rough guidelines. Taste the marinade before you put it over the chicken and again after the chicken has been cooking for 1 hour and make any adjustments you see fit.

Star anise and cloves would also be a great addition to this recipe. 

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