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Chinese five-spice powder used to punch up chicken kebabs

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Washington Post photo)
The Chinese five-spice seasoning packs a lot of flavor in these kebabs.

Skewered foods are the way to go when you want the food to look special and you want to control portion size. One skewer can suffice per person: You’ll have about 3 ounces of meat on each skewer.

The fun part is the seasoning. Here, Chinese five-spice powder packs a lot of flavor. A mix of hoisin sauce and toasted sesame oil makes a quick glaze. The scallion pieces add color and flavor and cook along with the chicken.

Five-Spice Chicken and Scallion Kebabs

Makes 5 or 6 skewers

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (trimmed of fat and tendons), cut into 1-inch cubes

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the grill

About 8 scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into 1-inch lengths

1½ tablespoons hoisin sauce

1½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1½ teaspoons water

Combine the five-spice powder and salt in a 1-gallon resealable plastic food storage bag, shaking lightly to blend the mixture. Add the chicken cubes, vinegars and olive oil. Seal, pressing as much air out of the bag as possible. Massage to make sure the chicken is evenly coated. Refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.

Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees F.). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Lightly coat a grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.

Have ready six 10-inch bamboo skewers. While the grill is heating, thread the cubes of marinated chicken and the scallions onto the skewers, starting and ending with the chicken. You should have 5 or 6 cubes of chicken on each skewer. Discard the marinade.

Combine the hoisin sauce, toasted sesame oil and water in a small bowl.

Lay aluminum foil on the grill so the parts of the skewers not covered with chicken will be shielded from the heat by the foil. Position the skewers on the grill. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, then turn the skewers. Brush the cooked side with the hoisin sauce mixture.

Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Turn them again and brush with the sauce mixture; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Check for doneness. If the chicken isn’t done, cover and cook for 3 to 6 minutes or until fully cooked; continue to brush lightly with the sauce mixture on any parts of the skewers not already coated with the sauce. The size and shape of the cubes will affect the cooking time. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F. in the thickest piece of chicken. Serve warm.

Nutrition per skewer: 140 calories, 18 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar.

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