I decided today to make an Asian inspired Cranberry Sauce, a bit more savory than the usual and flavored with Five Spice Powder. I use the Dynasty brand and it is made up of the following warming spices: Cinnamon, Star Anise, Fennel, Cloves, Ginger, Licorice, Szechuan Pepper and White Pepper. There are obviously more than 5, but the first 5 are the most important. These spices aid digestion and are ubiquitous in Chinese cooking. I've always thought of the popularity of Five Spice Powder in Chinese cooking as the equivalent of Pumpkin Spice in the US, only savory!
To make this Cranberry Sauce, I first sautéed some Shallot, added in some diluted Chicken Broth (or you can use Vegetable Broth), the Five Spice Powder, Rock Sugar and a little Sea Salt too. I used half as much Sugar as is usual and the bit of Salt helps balance it all. The Rock Sugar isn't absolutely necessary, but it is a bit less sweet than either Brown Sugar or White Sugar. I buy the light golden colored Rock Salt and use it for many Asian dishes so it's worth having it around. When using Brown or White Sugar, use just a bit less. I absolutely loved this Sauce and will probably make it every year from now on. Happy Thanksgiving!
Cranberry Sauce with Asian Flavors
12 ounces fresh Cranberries
¼ cup minced Shallots
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 cup diluted Chicken or Vegetable Broth (½ cup Water and ½ cup Broth)
½ cup Rock Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Five Spice Powder
Rinse the Cranberries in a strainer and pick out any soft ones and rinse. In a small saucepan, heat the Oil and add in the Shallots. Cook, stirring often until you can smell their fragrance and then add in the Cranberries, Broth, Rock Sugar, Salt and Five Spice Powder. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the Cranberries pop and the sauce thickens, about 10 - 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
Five Element Analysis
Cranberries, with their bright red color, belong primarily to the Fire Element. But they are also very tart, which contributes the Wood Element and the Broth adds even more. The Shallots and Five Spice Powder make sure the Metal Element is present and the Rock Sugar makes sure the Earth Element is there too. Only the Water Element is missing, which can easily be found in one of the other dishes on the table and is why this sauce is perfect for Duck!