It is a huge challenge to get my elder son to eat any vegetable or fruit. He categorically refuses. In fact, for a while I resorted to pureeing and “hiding” the vegetables in main meals and sauces. He won’t eat anything that he can actively identify as a vegetable. However, I have had success in getting him to eat “glazed” carrots if they are sweet enough, and, most recently, these five-spice carrots. This is a great side dish for any Asian-influenced meal.
Five-spice powder is an Asian spice mix that most commonly contains star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan pepper, and fennel seeds. If you can’t find it in your local Asian store, there is a recipe here. The Chinese believe that everything you consume whether it be food or drink or spice has either a warming or a cooling quality. This makes sense to me. Think about the effect that a cucumber (cooling) has on you when you eat it, as opposed to an onion (warming). Or think about the effect of a watermelon (cooling) as opposed to a pineapple (warming). Or mint (cooling) and nutmeg (warming). Five-spice powder contains warm-to-hot spices, which help make the neutral carrots a warming dish, and thereby good for the winter months.
Here’s a lovely chart from tasteofherbs.com that explains which spices are are warming and which ones are cooling. I refer to it often in the summer and winter months.
You can download the PDF here: Taste-Of-Herbs-Flavor-Wheel
I have specified that you should cut the carrots on a diagonal. In Chinese cuisine, many vegetables are cut on the diagonal because it provides a better balance of yin and yang, high and low, and thereby increases the “harmony” in the dish. Also, they just look nice that way.
- 3 cups carrots, chopped on the diagonal into rounds or sticks.
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. coconut aminos or soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. five-spice powder (available in the spice section of most supermarkets or in Chinese/Asian markets)
- Wash and chop the carrots. Combine the water, soy sauce, and honey and set aside.
- Melt half the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the carrots.
- Add the water, coconut aminos/soy sauce, and honey mixture. Bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat, cover and gently simmer the carrots until they are tender and pierce easily with a fork (about 10 minutes).
- Remove the lid. Turn the heat up to high and cook the carrots, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is burned off (5 to 7 minutes).
- Lower the heat. Add rest of butter and five-spice powder. Let butter melt. Toss.
- Serve hot.
- Tip: Garnish with fresh cilantro or lightly toasted sesame seeds.