What We’re Making: Trini-Chinese Chicken

This is a great spicy dish with Chinese flavours that is popular on the island of Trinidad. We would recommend marinating the chicken and baking it in the oven instead of frying it to make it a healthier option.

We also reduced the five spice mix to about one tablespoon, otherwise the five spice flavour is a bit strong. If you do not have five spice in your kitchen cupboard it’s very easy to make. We’ve added the recipe for it.

Substitution is the way to go in COVID cooking times so if you do not have access to hot peppersauce that is used in the dipping sauce you can use any hot sauce or even Siracha. However, please taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Alternatively, you can soak some Kashmiri red chili, rehydrate it and grind it into a paste adding some water and use this instead.

(Original recipe by Sam Sifton for The New York Times)

  • YIELD 4 to 6 servings
  • TIME 1 hour, plus refrigeration time


  • 8 to 10chicken thighs, legs and wings, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds total
  • 2tablespoons five-spice powder (See recipe below – we used 1 tablespoon since the flavour is quite strong)
  • 3limes
  • 3tablespoons soy sauce
  • 12-inch knob ginger root, peeled and minced
  • ½cup neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
  • 2tablespoons sesame oil
  • ½cup oyster sauce
  • 1 to 3tablespoons Scotch-bonnet-peppersauce, ideally Matouk’s Soca, to taste (Use any hot sauce, even Siracha, or soak Kashmiri red chilli and grind it in a paste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼cup chopped scallions, for garnish


  1. In a large, nonreactive bowl, toss the chicken with five-spice powder, then with the juice of 2 of the limes, the soy sauce and the ginger. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours.
  2. (Note: We recommend baking it instead of frying it to make it healthier). Heat oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat. There should be at least 1/4 inch of oil in the pan. When the oil is hot, remove chicken from marinade, allowing excess marinade to drip back into the bowl, and fry, in batches if necessary to not crowd the pan, turning the pieces frequently, until well browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce. Combine oyster sauce, a tablespoon of the Scotch-bonnet-pepper sauce (or any hot pepper sauce that you’re using) and the juice of the remaining lime and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings with more hot sauce, lime juice and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Garnish with scallions and serve with white or fried rice, with a drizzle of the sauce over each piece of chicken and the remaining sauce on the side.


  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns (or regular peppercorns)
  • 5 to 6 star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground Chinese cinnamon (it has a stronger, hotter flavor than regular cinnamon, so substitute a little more)
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds


  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. In a dry skillet or wok, toast the Sichuan peppercorns by shaking the pan over low to medium heat until the aroma of the peppercorns is released. This will take around 3 minutes.
  3. Grind the toasted peppercorns and the star anise in a blender, pepper mill, or spice grinder.
  4. Pass the blended seasonings through a fine-mesh strainer, so you are left with an even consistency.
  5. Mix in the ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and ground fennel seeds.
  6. Place the mixture back into the blender, mill, or spice grinder and grind the spices until very fine.
  7. Store in an airtight container and keep it in a dark, cool space until use. 

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