Chinese Five Spice is thought to have been the result of the Chinese’s attempt at creating the ultimate “wonder powder.” And all we can say is: Mission accomplished! Sweet, spicy, robust and vibrant, a small dash of this goes a long way to adding life and incredible flavor to your dishes!
What is Chinese Five Spice?
Chinese Five Spice is one of those magical spice blends that brings food to life with its complementary and contrasting flavors. It’s made up of five spices: Star anise, fennel, szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon and cloves. The number five also refers to the five flavor groups, namely sweet, bitter, salty, sour and umami/pungent. The thought is that by achieving balance among these flavors wondrous things can happen.
In fact, while the exact origin of Chinese Five Spice is unknown, it is believed that it is the result of the Chinese attempting to produce the ultimate “wonder powder.” And achieve that they did: Just a touch of this five spice powder will transform any dish to which it’s added!
How to Use Chinese Five Spice
Chinese five spice is deliciously versatile. Just to get you started with a few ideas, use it as follows:
- As a dry rub for pork, beef, chicken, duck and seafood
- In marinades for meat, poultry and seafood
- As a glaze combined with honey and brown sugar for your ham, chicken, pork or grilled ribs.
- Add to stir-fries
- Combine with breading for coating meats or veggies before frying
- Add to soups and stews for a fabulous depth of flavor
- A flavorful choice for spiced nuts
- Sprinkle a little on your oatmeal for a fun flavor twist
- Add to gingerbread-type baked goods for a unique boost in flavor
- and any other fun and imaginative way you can think of!
Chinese Five Spice Recipe
We highly recommend getting whole spices to make this seasoning blend. Pre-ground spices have been sitting around in warehouses and stores and have lost much of their natural oils. As with any spice blend, using whole spices and then toasting and grinding them yields the absolute best flavor. There just is no comparison.
It’s super simple to make your own following this Chinese Five Spice recipe:
Toast the whole spices in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until very fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spices or they will become bitter. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Grind the spices in a coffee/spice grinder, blender or with a mortar and pestle. Store your five spice powder in an airtight container until ready to use.
I’ve been using my KRUPS spice/coffee grinder for over 10 years and it’s still going strong.
Alternatively you can use pre-ground spices and simply combine them and store them until ready to use.
Enjoy the flavor and versatility of this wonderful homemade Chinese Five Spice!
For more delicious seasoning blends be sure to try our:
- Greek Seasoning
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Curry Powder
- Creole Seasoning
- Poultry Seasoning
- Garam Masala
- Seasoned Salt
- Montreal Steak Seasoning
- Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Chili Powder
- Pot Roast Seasoning
- British Mixed Spice
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Shichimi Togarashi
- Taco Seasoning
- Panch Phoron
Authentic Chinese Five Spice
- 10 star anise (or 2 tablespoons ground star anise)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds (or 1 1/2 tablespoons ground fennel seed)
- 2 teaspoons szechuan peppercorns (or 2 teaspoons ground szechuan peppercorn)
- 1 small stick cinnamon (or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
- 6 whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)
- Toast the whole spices in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until very fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spices or they will become bitter. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Grind the spices in a coffee/spice grinder, blender or with a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet April 4, 2013