Chinese Sauces & Spices


Apr 19
Chinese Spices

By now you should know that I find recipes, and then I make them healthier. I make them more hypoglycemic by cutting the carbs or by adding ingredients that keep your blood sugar from spiking, and I try to make them more anti-inflammatory. I add better oils, use the best ingredients, and definitely try to make them tastier.

Please Note: We are a 501(c)(3) educational charity and subsist on donations and affiliate programs. We sell nothing except our publications. All of our affiliate programs come from companies we trust that sell products we’ve used ourselves. Nearly all the products we promote have been tested by our volunteers. If we find something to be crap or nonsense, we tell you. If you wish to support us, you may do so by supporting the companies in our affiliate programs.

Yesterday I experimented with a Mongolian Chicken recipe, and there was basically nothing I could do to make that recipe more than bland.

So first we’re going to make the Chinese Five Spice Powder. Recipes don’t call for much, but it’s good to have it around. We made about 8 ounces of it so that we can experiment even further with new recipes.

The spice consists of star anise, fennel, sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves. Now you can buy this almost everywhere, but making it in your kitchen just enhances your cooking experience. You get to inhale all the different scents as you grind them in your blender.

We found this recipe at, and since we’re not going to modify it, we want them to get all the credit.

Chinese Five Spice Powder

First gather up all the spices, and grind the anise, fennel, and peppercorns in your blender. Place them in their individual containers and label them.

This is your recipe for about 3 tablespoons of the finished product. First the original recipe, and then what we did to make ours.

  • 2 teaspoons ground star anise
  • 2 teaspoons ground fennel
  • ¾ teaspoons ground sichuan peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Pretty simple, eh?

Well, we wanted to make up a big batch so we multiplied everything by nine. The limiting factor was the amount of star anise we had on hand; 6 tablespoons or 18 teaspoons.

  • 6 tablespoons ground star anise
  • 6 tablespoons ground fennel
  • 6 ¾ teaspoons ground sichuan peppercorns (2 tbl + ¾ tsp)
  • 4 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons ground cloves

This made us a little over 8 ounces (by volume) of the spice.

Next we’re going to make Hoisin Sauce. It’s a great sweet sauce that you’ll need to make Chinese Broccoli. The Kikkoman Hoisin sauce we purchased has 19 grams of carbs per two tablespoons (one fluid ounce).

We wanted to cut the carbs and use an MCT oil instead of the vegetable oil the recipe called for. So when the recipe called for dark brown sugar, we had to find a way to turn etrythritol into dark brown sugar.

Here is what we did:

Low Carb Brown Sugar

We should explain that the Swerve (erythritol) is just about 75% as sweet as sugar. So a cup of swerve is not equal to a cup of sugar. And it doesn’t have the exact same taste. We’ve learned that adding a bit of stevia makes the Swerve taste more like sugar and cuts the aftertaste of the stevia.

Now you do NOT have to add the molasses to the swerve or even the drops of the extracts. If the recipe calls for a cup of brown sugar, just add them all and let them mix in the recipe.

The more black strap molasses, the darker the brown sugar substitute. We used a whole teaspoon.

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

Again, this recipe was found at the same place as above, but the author was Kimberly Killebrew. We’re going to mess with this one and give it fewer carbs, fewer calories, a better fat, and make it all around healthier.

First the brown sugar:

Next the Chinese Black Bean Sauce (and after this we’ll teach you how to make your own)

  • 4 ½ liquid ounces Black Bean Sauce (9 tablespoons)
  • 6 (3 oz) tablespoons water
  • 6 (3 oz) tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 3 tablespoons Rice or Apple Cider vinegar
  • 12 pitted prunes (about a quarter cup when turned into paste)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons MCT oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Chinese Five Spice Powder

This recipe makes 18 fl ounces of Hoisin Sauce, with a total of 56 grams of carbohydrates. That means about 3 grams of carbs per ounce of homemade sauce compared to 19 grams of the store-bought version.

Oh, directions to make this? Simple: put everything in your Nutribullet and run it through a full cycle twice. Or, if you have just a blender, blend on high till the dried prunes are liquid.

If you have a bottle of store-bought on hand, give them both a taste test. You’ll find that your homemade just has a larger orchestra of sensations to it. The various spices all get their own solos and still play harmoniously together. It’s a much richer flavor than the store-bought.

Homemade Chinese Black Bean Sauce

One more time: this recipe originally came from the Daring Gourmet,, but we have modified it to be just a tad healthier.

You’ll need to purchase some fermented black beans online or at an Asian market. Then soak the beans you are going to use in water for an hour, then rinse and drain.

  • 3 – 6 tablespoons fermented black beans (the more you use the stronger/saltier your final product )
  • 2 tablespoons MCT oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • ½ cup chicken bone broth
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 1 teaspoon Swerve Confectionery Sweetener
  • ½ teaspoon rice/apple cider vinegar
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoons Konjac flour


Mash up the beans and set aside.

Heat up the oil to a medium heat and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for just a minute or so till it’s very fragrant and then add the onions and again cook for just for a minute or two and then stir in the mashed beans.

Add everything else except the Konjac flour. We add that last (because it starts to solidify when it gets wet).

Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer uncovered for about ten minutes until the liquid is reduced by half. Then stir in the Konjac flour and whisk until thickened. Should last two weeks in the fridge, but use it up right away. Great stuff.

We’ll be adding some authentic Chinese recipes just as soon as we find the good ones.

And here is the first one. We’ve tried it and tested it, and it’s positively delicious.

Chinese Broccoli

Also Keep in Mind

Many of the links are to our affiliate programs, so when you support them, you support us. And because I’m the head volunteer at Simply the Best, I’ve helped them get two products that some of you have trouble getting that are in these recipes. The Swerve Confectionery Sweetener (which I’ve just noticed is spelled wrong) and MCT Oil. We carry Swerve at a price that is better than anywhere, just to help out our readers (we don’t make much at all on it) and the MCT Oil too is 70% cheaper than at my co-op 4 miles away. And ours is NOT made from palm oil . . . the collection of which is destroying the habitats of many endangered animals. So check out Simply the Best.