MAKES 1/3 cup

When I was a small-town kid, my parents would sometimes take my brother and me to a Chinese restaurant in the next town over. There were lush potted palms and a koi pond with a bridge in the middle of the restaurant. The big round table (“our table”) had a lazy Susan in the center of it for sharing dishes. The unfamiliar tastes were irresistible, and I still relish the way a particular flavor can send me on an adventure. Five-spice powder is a crucial ingredient in this sauce and instantly transports local ingredients to an exotic place.


• 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
• 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
• 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
• Five-spice powder is sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty


1. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, red pepper flakes, five-spice powder, and rice vinegar with a fork to form a smooth paste. Stirring continuously with the fork, pour in the orange juice, then add the coconut aminos.

You know how you could do that?

Substitute other fruit juices for the orange juice: lime, lemon, pomegranate, and pineapple.

The way a vegetable is cut affects how quickly it cooks, its texture, and its mouthfeel. Try to cut all your veggies for a stir fry into approximately even-sized pieces so they cook uniformly. Try 1-inch chunks, matchsticks, or thin slices. Change the shape; change your dish.