19 Aug 2022

All About Food: Putting a modern twist on a classic - Gingergirl

All About Food: Putting a modern twist on a classic - Gingergirl

Chinese Five Spice is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns

Hello and welcome to all about food. Every week I get emails from readers who have misplaced a recipe I have featured in the food column. All the recipes from all about food are available online through

Ask Gingergirl:

Hello Gingergirl,

I often hear chefs talking about putting a modern twist on a classic but I never know how to do this! Can you give me some guidance or ideas please?


Hello Maureen,

A modern twist can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, for me I like to keep things simple so I find experimenting with herbs, spices or a few additional ingredients transforms any favourite. The majority of my ideas come from eating out, travel, reading food books or simply looking into the back of my cupboards when I’m in need of doing a grocery shop!

Chinese five-spice is an ingredient I often reach for, especially when cooking pork, lamb or duck. The spice is a blend of five spices and may include cassia (a close relative of cinnamon), star anise, Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, cloves, ginger, cardamom or liquorice root, making it a blend of sweet, warm, spicy and cool. As usual, I recommend you use your local Craft Butcher for the pork.

Loin of bacon with honey and five-spice.

Serves 6+

3lb loin of bacon

6 whole peppercorns

6 tablespoons of honey

4 teaspoons of five-spice

Place the bacon joint in a large saucepan with the whole peppercorns and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°c. Remove the cooked bacon joint from the saucepan. Carefully cut the rind from the loin of bacon and score the remaining fat in a criss-cross fashion. Place in a roasting tin and spread with the mixed honey and five spice.

Place in the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, until the fat is golden brown and the bacon is completely heated through. Remove from the oven and transfer to a warmed platter to rest, covered loosely with foil. I like to serve this with stir fried cabbage (see below) and mashed potato.

Quick stir-fry cabbage

Destalk a head of cabbage (I like Savoy), wash and shred finely. In a heavy based pan heat a drizzle of olive oil and a knob of butter, add the cabbage with a sprinkle of salt and stir continuously over a medium heat for a few minutes or until the cabbage is cooked to your liking. Serve immediately.

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