Five-spice Greens

The precise type of greens is not important, though dark-green and slightly bitter leaves like pak choi or Brussels sprout tops are preferable to sweeter and lighter vegetables. Chinese cabbage is not suitable. Cantonese chefs would cook this dish in a wok, but I prefer to use a large and heavy frying pan.

This is also an excellent method for cooking spinach or broccoli.


  • 450g/1lb pak choi, Brussels sprout tops or any seasonal greens
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • about 2tsp sesame oil
  • about 1 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
  • salt


  • large saucepan
  • colander
  • wok or heavy frying pan


Mise en Place

Destalk the greens and blanch in a large pan of fast-boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Refresh in cold water, drain in the colander and gently squeeze out excess moisture. Chill until ready to cook • Slice the garlic into very thin rounds.


Put the sunflower oil in the wok or large heavy frying pan and place over a medium heat. Fry the garlic in this for 1 minute, being careful not to let it brown (which makes it bitter).

Turn the heat up and throw in the greens. Toss once, sprinkle over the five-spice powder and toss again. Dribble over some sesame oil and soy sauce to taste.


Serve at once, piping hot. If you leave it to stand, the oil will separate out and it will not taste as good.