Sometimes when I'm busy with other projects I just don't want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking, but I still want a colorful, tasty, hearty dish, preferably something cooked in one pot or a dish served with rice or pasta: Chinese 5-Spice Chicken is one of these. A good aspect of this recipe is havin nearly all the spices are in one jar; Five Spice Powder is usually a combination of cinnamon, fennel seed, star anise, Sichuan pepper, and cloves, though some brands use nutmeg and ginger instead. Most big supermarkets sell it, and I've even seen a version of it in the Dollar Tree. The vegetables are pre-packaged frozen and ready to use, which makes preparation even quicker, though if you are making the dish special for a party or dinner it's even better with fresh vegies (just be careful and don't overcook them). I serve this with white and brown rice mixed, and pineapple for dessert.
NOTE on the Mushrooms: Don't let the odd appearance put you off--these wood-ear mushrooms are great in all kinds of soups and stir-fries, or chopped and blended into fillings for dumplings. My favorite kind has them compressed into a cake about the size of a hotel soap! We love to watch that tiny bar expand to several times their size in water. Rinse them off before using, in case of grit or sand. Most Asian stores sell these and I encourage you to find different ways to use them. The texture is a slightly crisp and rubbery and makes a pleasant addition to any dish; there is almost no taste but you can pickle or marinate them for a few days and add them to a recipe if you like. Texture is very important in Chinese cuisine, the mouth-feel giving added dimension to a dish, and these mushrooms are only one of many ways to do this. Enjoy! —BeijingRose
Pour 2-3 cups of warm water in a bowl and add a little soy sauce (1/4 cup) and place the dried mushrooms in the water--they will expand to full size in about 10-15 minutes. Put your rice in the steamer now so it will be ready when the dish is finished.
Dredge the chicken cubes in 3 TBSP of cornstarch, sprinkle with 2 TBSP 5-spice powder, salt to taste and 1 TBSP minced garlic, set aside for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Meanwhile put the 2 TBSP sesame seed oil in the bottom of the wok or large pan and turn the heat on medium. When the oil is heated toss in the chicken and brown on the outsides, then add a 1/4 cup of warm water and pop on the lid-- let it steam for about 10 minutes.
While the chicken is steaming, open the 3 bags of vegies and toss them in the wok , stir gentlyl. Take the mushrooms out of their bowl and squeeze out the water, then toss them in on top of the vegies , and fold them all together; put on the lid to let them steam together for about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl put the Shaoxing wine, soysauce, crumbled bouillon cube and minced garlic---heat in microwave for 2 minutes and stir well. Pour this over the chicken and vegies in the wok and let it heat up, about 2 minutes. Put TBSP or two of cornstarch in a small jar with lid, with 1/4 cup COLD water and shake until mixed then pour over your dish in the wok, mixing gently. Cover and let simmer for maybe another 3-4 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Lift the wok lid and let out the steam. Pour over rice and sprinkle with chopped green onion to serve!