Five Spice Basa

I had never heard of ‘five spice’.  I learned that it was a VERY common mixture used in Chinese cooking but also found in other Asian and Arabian dishes.

An interesting history tidbit:  although you would think that the name 5-spice comes from the number of ingredients it is actually a reference to the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.  In traditional Chinese medicine, herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years to restore balance in the elements.

Basa is a light tasting cat-fish native to Indochina.  While it is imported, testing agencies have found no toxins in this type of fish.

Rather than pay for a larger container of five-spice blend.  We went to our local bulk-food store and bought the ‘five’ spices by tsp.  That way, they were fresh and used up what we needed.  We served our Basa with a side of Sugar Peas and Homemade Scalloped Potatoes.

Prep Time: 20 minutes                    Slow Cooker Time: 1 hours                Serves: 4

  • 400-500g Basa fillets
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 scallions, thinly

Ingredients for ‘make your own’ five spice blend:

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground star anise
  • 1/2 tsp Szechuan Peppercorn

Sprinkle both sides of Basa fillets with five-spice powder. Combine soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Basa and cook 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, turn the fish over, stir the soy mixture and pour into the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until the fish is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes more. Add scallions and remove from the heat. Drizzle the fish with pan sauce.

Darling Daughter’s Notes:  Basa is delicious and the spices were different.  Not hot, not too sweet… just right. I could have had more fish! 

Suggested Nutritional Values (1 portion): Calories 156, Protein 22g, Carbohydrates 5g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 3g, Total Fat 6g, Cholesterol 47mg, Sodium 579mg

Great Mineral Bonuses:  Omega 3 DHA 106mg, Selenium 81%, Vitamin B1263%, Niacin 32%, Vitamin K 30%, Phosphorus 27%

Diabetes Type 2 Suggestions:   Leave out the brown sugar and be sure to use reduced sodium soy sauce.  Otherwise this is an excellent low-cal, low-carb, low-sugar, high-healthy fats supper solution.


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