Five Spice Street Cart Chicken Skewers!

Every time I head over to 8th ave in Brooklyn or Flushing in Queens I always see at least one infamous cart selling chicken on a stick and no matter what I do to avoid it, once I get a whiff of it its close to impossible to pass it up. I mean c'mon its hot, grilled, smoky, & juicy chicken on a stick. How do you pass that up? The answer is you don't. You give that cart your money and you go on your merry way chicken in hand. A couple years ago, I cracked the code and figured out which seasoning combination got that classic street cart flavor without the outdoor grill. You know the flavor I'm talking about... its lightly smokey and charred from the fire of the grill, it has notes of umami all through out, and deniable flavor of cumin and white pepper is ever so present. Finish it off with a sprinkle of ground red pepper powder for that spicy kick at the end ...or not. Either way the chicken is so incredibly tender and addictive that I just had to share it with you now, that its summer and BBQs are in full throttle.

Each spice in my recipe has a reason for being but ones that really shine to make these chicken skewers reminiscent of street cart classics are the five spice and toragashi seasoning. Five spice is made up of five spices: fennel, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and Sichuan peppercorns. Its warm and earthy with just a slight numbing seasoning from the peppercorns. While the toragashi sesaoning blend adds a bright citrusy umami flavor due to the orange peel & ginger. Despite, it's bright red color from the red pepper being the number one ingredient, its not spicy. Instead the combination of the two along with cumin, white pepper, garlic and onion create an insanely addictive spice blend that mimics the famous chicken street cart skewers I get roped into eating. Try it out at your net bbq & let me know how you liked it!

Five Spice Street Cart Chicken Skewers!


  • 1 pound of chicken thighs, skinless & boneless
  • 2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of ground onion
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked toragashi powder
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper powder, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil, to finish
  • freshly chopped scallions, optional



  1. Start by soaking a couple of skewers in some water. You do this just so that the wood doesn't burn when you cook them. I find that just a couple minutes is good enough.
  2. Mix together the dried cilantro, ground onion, ground garlic, ground white pepper, five spice powder, and smoked toragashi powder until uniform in color.
  3. Cut up the chicken thighs into medium sized pieces You should get around 8- 10 pieces per thigh.
  4. Then throw all the chicken pieces together with 2 tablespoons of the dry spice mix, Shaoxing wine, and oil. Toss to combine. You can leave this to marinate for up to 2 days or use immediately.
  5. Now you can start pushing the chicken pieces through the skewer. I normally do about 5 - 7 pieces per skewer.
  6. Once you are ready to cook get your heaviest pan on a medium high flame with a little bit of oil and start searing those babies up. It will take about 2- 3 minutes per side. I sometimes do cook them a little longer so I get the crunchy bits.
  7. When they are all done, brush on some sesame oil and sprinkle them with sesame seeds & scallions. If you want a little more spice, sprinkle on some more of the dry spice mix! Enjoy!
Recipe Details
By Alex Chung

Senior Food Writer at Pro Home Cooks