Hakka Spice Blend

A delicious, nutty spice blend with sesame seeds and toasted spices. Perfect for Hakka lamb skewers or Hakka chicken dumplings!

6 whole Star Anise

1 tsp each, whole: cloves, cumin, coriander, allspice, fennel, black peppercorn, Sichuan peppercorn

2 inch stick cinnamon, broken up

2 tbsp white sesame seeds

1 tbsp ground ginger

Set a medium non stick skillet over medium heat. Add star anise, cloves, cumin, coriander, allspice, fennel, black pepper, Sichuan pepper and cinnamon sticks to skillet. Toast until fragrant and slightly darker, about 3 min.

Add sesame seeds and toast again for another 2-3 min until spices are darker and aromatic. 

Grind to a fine powder along with the ginger.

Chilli Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Chilli chicken is a very popular Hakka restaurant favourite. Here, I have used it to make delicious, healthy wraps. You can add cooked rice vermicelli to make them more filling. You can also cut back on the amount of chillies used or de-seed them to reduce heat.


1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/2 inch piece ginger

2 cloves garlic

2 green chillies

1/4 cup fresh coriander and tender stems

2 tbsp each, divided: dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, vegetable oil

1 tbsp sesame oil, divided

1 tsp cornstarch

1 whole star anise

2 each, whole: cardamom, cloves, dried red chillies

Small cinnamon stick

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 red pepper, diced

6 shitake mushrooms, sliced

Iceberg or other lettuce leaves

Cut chicken into very small pieces and place in deep bowl.

Combine ginger, garlic, green chillies and fresh coriander in mini food processor and mince well.

Add to chicken in bowl, along with 1 tbsp each of soy sauce and vinegar and 1 tsp each of sesame oil and cornstarch. Mix well to combine, reserve or refrigerate for later use in recipe.

Warm vegetable oil in deep non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add star anise, cardamom, cloves, red chillies and cinnamon stick. Sizzle for about 1 min. until spices are fragrant, then add onions and peppers. Saute for 3-4 min. until softened, then add mushrooms. saute 2 mins, then add chicken and all its marinade. Stir fry chicken for about 7-8 min. or until it is cooked through.

Add remaining soy, vinegar and sesame oil, then remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl.

Serve with lettuce leaves on the side to make wraps.

Serves four-six