It seems that the exact origin of five-spice powder is unknown but there is some speculation that the blend was created in traditional Chinese medicine. A very unique spice blend that represents a wide range of flavors from sweet, salty and bitter to pungent and sour. Rumor has it that the Chinese were trying to create a ‘miracle powder’ that was representative of all the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Then again, its possible that a cook accidentally stumbled upon this particular combination of spices and realized its power to improve on a bland dish. In any case, it is very versatile and can be used not only in cooking but also adds a unique flavor to baked goods.
Many recipes for five-spice powder exist but there is no one traditional recipe. Often the ingredients and amounts can vary from region to region and are different depending on the household and individual tastes. The original blend contained star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel seed, cinnamon and cloves. A staple in Chinese cuisine but has also found its way into other international cuisines such as Vietnamese and Hawaiian food.
This is an interesting recipe combining pork with a spicy rhubarb sauce. Definitely a keeper!
Chinese Pork Ribs with Spicy Rhubarb Sauce
In a saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, honey, hoisin, garlic, ginger, 5-spice powder & crushed red pepper. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced & the rhubarb is very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in soy sauce & lemon juice. Transfer 2 TABLESPOONS of the sauce to a saucer; set aside the remaining sauce until serving time.
In a resealable large plastic bag, combine soy sauce, honey, oil, 5-spice powder, salt, pepper & the 2 Tbsp of reserved 'rhubarb sauce'. Place ribs in the bag; seal & marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 275 F. Place ribs & marinade in a baking dish. Place in oven to SLOW roast for about 1 1/2 hours until VERY tender. Remove from oven, garnish with sliced green onion & serve with remaining rhubarb sauce.
Rhubarb was originally cultivated for its medicinal properties and was not used in European cooking until the late 18th century. The history of rhubarb is very complicated but simply put there are only two broad categories, medicinal and culinary.
Thought of by many as an old fashioned ‘vegetable’, it never has really fallen out of favor. In Germany, rhubarb season is from April until June. There are countless recipes using rhubarb as the German people are very passionate about eating produce they have grown themselves.
I have an inherited love of rhubarb — the way it tastes, its huge beautiful foliage, its hardiness, productiveness …….
RHUBARB SOUR CREAM PIE (German Rhabarber Sauerrahn Kuchen) has been in my pie ‘go to’ file forever. The combination of these two ingredients works magic. Just for something different, I decided to use the same recipe but make it into tarts today.
Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie / Tarts
In a small bowl, combine oatmeal, brown sugar, margarine, flour & citrus zest. Cut in margarine until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & nutmeg; beat in sour cream & egg. Gently fold in rhubarb. Pour into pastry shell. Sprinkle topping mixture over the filling.
Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F. & bake for 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
- In order to obtain nice slices, refrigerate pie until cold then slice & heat a bit in the microwave if preferred.
As I mentioned before, pork tenderloin regularly pops up in my supper menus. Over time, I have prepared it in many different ways and hardly ever remember any that we didn’t care for.
Since my three rhubarb plants seem to still be producing those lovely stalks, why not use them! This blog recipe is easy, wonderful tasting and a great presentation all in one. Here’s my interpretation of Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney. Enjoy!
Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney
The spice rub 'marinating' adds so much to the overall flavor.
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine spice rub ingredients. Butterfly pork tenderloin & flatten to uniform thickness. Place in plastic bag with spice rub & shake to distribute seasoning well. Close bag & allow to stand in refrigerator for several hours.
In a heavy saucepan, combine first 9 chutney ingredients. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion & dried cranberries; increase heat to medium & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Can be made ahead of time & refrigerated until needed.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a piece of aluminum foil & place on a wire rack on a baking pan. Cut plastic bag open; lay tenderloin flat with cut side up. Spread chutney over tenderloin & carefully roll (using plastic bag), starting with the long side as you would with a cake 'jelly roll'. Place on greased foil on pan.
Lightly rub a small amount of olive oil or a 'fig balsamic dressing' over top of tenderloin. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tests done. DO NOT OVER BAKE! Remove from oven & allow stand for a few minutes before slicing.
I can not remember ever being able to pick fresh rhubarb in the middle of May here in northern Alberta, Canada. We are definitely seeing some serious changes in the weather.
I love everything about the plant — how good it tastes, the beautiful huge foliage in the garden and how it can keep on producing all season long. The uses of rhubarb are endless. For most part, I think it is usually thought of as a dessert ingredient. I tried making it into a spicy chutney with pork tenderloin for supper one night and it was real nice.
Bordering one side of my mother’s large country garden grew six or eight rhubarb plants. I can’t even imagine how much they would produce. I recall that special taste of her Saskatoon-Rhubarb Pie. Saskatoon berries grew wild in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This was a good reason for our family to pack a picnic lunch and make the drive on a Sunday afternoon to pick saskatoon berries. Not only did it make for quality family time but those fresh berries were soooo– good!.
Here are a couple of dessert recipes I made with some of my first rhubarb stalks of this season. One is Rhubarb-Blueberry Cobbler, an old fashioned baked dessert with a tender biscuit crust sprinkled with sugar. The other one is Rhubarb-Orange Cheesecake Parfait. If a rhubarb plant isn’t growing somewhere in your back yard you can usually locate some at a neighborhood Farmer’s Market throughout the summer.
Enjoy a little rhubarb nostalgia in two different presentations.
Rhubarb-Orange Cheesecake Parfaits
Mix chopped rhubarb & blueberries together in a large saucepan. Blend sugar & cornstarch together & stir into the fruit mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup cold water.
Place on medium heat & bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low & cook until juices flow & fruit is soft. Pour into an 8-cup casserole dish.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, 1 Tbsp sugar & salt. Blend well. Cut in margarine with a pastry cutter until mixture is a coarse texture. In another bowl blend milk & egg.
Make a well in center of flour mixture; add milk/egg mixture & stir until flour is moistened. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto the fruit mixture. Sprinkle with brown sugar evenly. Bake about 25-30 minutes. Serve plain or with a dollop of yogurt or whipped cream.
Rhubarb-Orange Cheesecake Parfaits
In a plastic bag, coarsely crush gingersnap cookies; set aside.
Chop rhubarb stalks & place in saucepan with water. Cook over low heat until soft. Remove rhubarb from heat. Add sugar, Cointreau & cornstarch; mix well. Return to heat & stir until thickened; cool completely.
In a large glass bowl, dissolve jelly powder & boiling water, making sure it is completely dissolved before adding to cream cheese. Blend in cream cheese with a hand mixer on low speed. Whisk in juice & zest of orange as well as the Cool Whip.
In parfait glasses, spoon a layer of cream cheese mixture; sprinkle lightly with gingersnap crumbs then add a layer of rhubarb sauce. Repeat layers one more time making sure to divide cheesecake, rhubarb sauce & crumbs evenly between parfaits ending with cheesecake mixture.
Refrigerate about 4 hours; garnish a bit more orange zest & a fresh mint leaf if desired.