Chinese Five Spiced Cauliflower

written by Sarah Michael Griffin November 10, 2017

Here I have a friend who came visiting me today, who immediately whined on and on when I said I’m cooking cauliflower for dinner. From how tasteless, to how mushy it is and so on. Well I’ve set my mind to prove her wrong, and so I did. Since we are having a rather cold and wet weather in Malaysia lately, I have decided to incorporate Chinese Five Spiced Powder to give some extra internal heat. It also adds a strong and great flavour to my cauliflowers along with the ShiaoXing cooking wine.

Chinese Five Spiced Powder is made out of grinding cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel seeds, and lastly Szechuan peppercorn into a powder form. Sometimes the cinnamon will be replaced by dried mandarin peel and licorice or nutmeg based on the region they come from. Commonly used to marinade fatty meats like pork, as it exudes a very strong flavour, it is used very sparingly. This powder apart from just seasoning our food also contains some health benefits. Good for aiding digestions, it also has its anti-inflammatory properties which as I have mentioned above comes handy on a cold rainy day.

The Chinese Cooking Rice Wine that I have used in this recipe is made by fermenting brown glutinous rice. ShiaoXing rice wine has a distinctive brownish amber colour and has a sweet yet strong taste to it which is why it is not recommended in daily cooking, as it can mask the flavour of all the other ingredients. This wine too is a good warming agent along with the five spice powder as it contains 17-18% alcohol in it. Ideal for meaty dishes.

Despite the strong combination of the five spice powder and Shiao Xing wine, I kept the flavour subtle by using them sparingly, giving enough respect to all the other ingredients that goes into this stir-fry dish. Owh, and coming back to my friend. She managed to finish up the cauliflower, helping herself with a second serving.

How To Make Five Spiced Cauliflower

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Serves: 3-4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:


  • 500g (approximately) Cauliflower- cut into small florets
  • 200g (approximately) Beef/ Pork Meat- thinly sliced and marinated with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • 4-5 Dried Chilies - soaked in hot water for 2 minutes before cutting it diagonally with a kitchen scissors
  • 5 cloves of Garlic -chopped
  • 1 inch of Ginger -julienned
  • 2 nos of Rose Onions -thinly sliced (since this onion is small I use two, if using the normal red onion, I would suggest using only half of it)
  • 1 stem of Scallion/Spring Onion/ Green Onion - roughly cut into 1.5 inches long
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spiced Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar (white sugar would do too)
  • 1/2 tsp Chicken Stock Powder
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese Cooking Rice Wine ( I use ShiaoXing Rice Wine)
  • 3 tbsp Water
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Oil


  1. Heat up the peanut oil in a pan or wok on medium high heat.
  2. Saute’ the onions, star anise, ginger and garlic for a few seconds till fragrant.
  3. Next, add in the dried chilies and meat, and fry up till the meat is just cooked.  (A Word of Caution: Do Not Over cook the meat, as it will just give an unpleasant texture)
  4. Pour in the soy sauce, Chinese cooking rice wine, salt, brown sugar, chicken stock powder, and Chinese five spiced powder and mix well till the meats are coated evenly with the seasonings.
  5. Add the water and then later the cauliflower.
  6. Stir- fry for a couple of minutes, then add in the scallions and cook for another one and a half minute before serving them up.

    Clockwise from top right: cauliflower, beef or pork meat. spring onions, dried chilies, sliced onions and chopped garlic

    Clockwise from top left: brown sugar, Chinese Shiao Xing cooking wine, soy sauce, chicken stock powder, Chinese five spiced powder, star anise


If you find the stir-fry to be a tad too dry, add a little bit more of water before adding in the scallions. Serve hot with white rice and a bowl of good old chicken soup along with other vegetable stir-fry. A perfect dinner on a cold rainy day. Go give it a try! Cook, Snap, Hashtag and Post it in Instagram. We'll re-post and give you a shout-out!

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