San Jose Chinese Five Spice Tacos

Nothing says California like Chinese-Mexican fusion food! My hosts insisted they didn’t have anything to eat – just some carrots, leftover scallions, a piece of fruit they didn’t know what to do with, and a bunch of condiments in the fridge door. We thawed out some frozen chicken and threw this together within half an hour, much to their shock and delight. Afterwards, we made some rice and turned the leftovers into burritos for lunch the next day.

The sauce is nice, but the crunchy-sweet contrast of the Asian pear and marinated carrots really makes these improvised tacos sing!

Asian-Mexican fusion tacos I made in California!


1 lb chicken breast or thighs

2 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder

1 -2 tbsp high smoke point oil


2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp ginger paste (or fresh peeled and grated ginger)

½ tsp sesame oil

½ tsp Chinese five spice powder


1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 tsp ginger paste

¼ tsp salt


12 flour or corn tortillas

1 asian pear, sliced thin

2 scallions, both whites and greens


Start by pickling your carrots. Cut the carrot into matchsticks (or just buy a pre-cut bag). Mix your rice wine vinegar, ginger paste, and ¼ tsp salt. Soak the carrots in the marinade and set aside. You can make these the night before if you’d like.

Next, mix up your sauce. All you need to do is whisk all the ingredients together until well blended and set the bowl aside.

It’s finally time to do some cooking! I like the texture of fork shredded chicken in my tacos, but I also like to save time, so I typically butterfly my chicken breasts. If you have a meat hammer you can also bash on them until they’re no more than an inch thick.

However you thin them out, when you’re done, pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then toss with 2 tsp Chinese five spice powder.

Heat your oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken pieces until browned and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your meat.

Let the chicken cool for a couple minutes then attack it with a pair of forks until it’s ripped into nice long shreds. Throw the chicken back into your skillet, pour your sauce over it, and simmer over a low heat for 1-2 minutes while the flavors mingle.

While your chicken cooks, cut the Asian pear into very thin slices and chop both the white and green ends of your scallions.

Toast your tortillas.

Pile each taco with your well sauced meat, a couple slices of Asian pear, a tablespoon of the drained carrots, and a sprinkle of scallions.