Chinese Five Spice is basically a mix of 5 major spices and is a very versatile spice mix that can be used in a variety of recipes. It is a must-have in Chinese kitchen and is quite easy to make at home and much economical than buying it from stores. Here is how to make it.
Spices are the lifeline of any dish. I am sure every Indian will agree to this!
It brings that delectable flavor in the dish, that is hard to resist.
One of the spice powders that belongs to the Chinese cuisine, that I always make at home is this Five Spice Powder.
It is a combination of five spices, that is either already available in your pantry or you can easily find it in the market.
It is always better to make any spice powder at home, as they are free of preservatives and artificial colors.
The homemade spice powder also adds a fresh taste to your dish which makes them even more delicious.
And that’s the reason I prefer to make my spices at home.
So, if you are planning to make Chinese Cuisine, and require this spice powder, do make it at home beforehand and store it in an airtight container.
What is Chinese Five Spice Powder?
It is a common misconception that Chinese cuisine comprises mainly of sauces and Chilli flakes.
The cuisine is in fact much more complex than that, and it stretches back to thousands of years.
Like India, China also uses many spices that are common across the Asian region.
The Chinese 5 Spice is a mixture of 5 common spices that are used in a majority of dishes from the region.
This authentic homemade spice powder reflects the original blend of spices shared by families for generations.
It is robust and has a sweet and warm tone from the mixture of spices added to it.
The five-spice powder has all the five flavors in one go – salty, bitter, umami, sweet and sour, hence making it a perfectly balanced spice blend.
The ingredients and their ratio vary from region to region and from family to family.
My recipe is based on my personal taste preference and I am sure you will love it too, but feel free to make the changes according to what suits your palate.
Taiwanese and Vietnamese cuisine also use this spice mix in their cooking.
The seasoning comprises Star Anise, Fennel Seeds, Sichuan Peppercorns, Dry Ginger, and Cinnamon.
These five spices encompass all the five flavors; sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and salty.
Rather than add the spices individually, adding them together adds a different depth and flavor to a dish, is a good balance of heat and enhances the dishes they are used in.
All these ingredients are readily available in any Asian store or you can order them online.
In addition to the must-have ingredients in a traditional recipe, you can also add turmeric, nutmeg, anise seeds, ginger root, amomum villosum pods, cardamom pods, licorice, orange peel, or galangal to give it a more complex flavor.
Although Chinese 5 Spice powder is available readymade, it must be made at home to experience the true aroma and flavor of each of the spice and it is much more economical to make it at home.
You can slightly roast the ingredients for an even more pronounced flavor.
Is Szechuan peppercorn different from black peppercorn?
Szechuan peppercorn or Sichuan peppercorn is not actually a peppercorn. It is a berry of a prickly ash tree.
The berry is dried and used in Chinese cooking for it’s floral, citrusy, and spicy flavor. I get mine from my local Asian store or order it online.
Can you substitute Sichuan Peppercorn with something else?
The heat that Sichuan peppercorn give is very different from the other ingredients. It’s more of a numbing heat than spicy heat.
Think of biting into a piece of fresh ginger.
If you are looking for traditional flavours, there is no substitute for this ingredient. However, many brands that sell 5 spice do not use it and instead use black peppercorn.
You can do that too. But then it will not be the traditional way.
Can it be substituted for All Spice?
Chinese 5 spice is a blend of different spices however All Spice is one single berry. It is generally not advisable to use allspice in place of five-spice as it will alter the taste.
Five Spice is a very versatile powder and is a must in Chinese cooking.
You can use it to flavor fillings for dumplings, dry rub for pork, beef and duck roast, in Chinese pancakes and stir-fries.
You can check out a whole lot of ideas here.
A small pinch of it, when added to vegetable stir fry, adds a great amount of flavor.
Some of my fav recipes that use this spice are:
Where to buy Sichuan Peppercorns?
You can try to source these from your nearby Asian grocery store or try online from Amazon.
This spice mix can be stored in a glass jar for up to a month in a cool and dry place.
You can refrigerate it and increase its shelf life even more.
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Step By Step Recipe
Add all the ingredients in a blender and grind well to make a smooth powder. You can slightly roast the ingredients for a more profound flavour.
Transfer in a glass jar and store in a cool dry place.
Chinese Five Spice Recipe
- 30 g Star Anise
- 20 g Fennel Seeds
- 30 g Sichuan Peppercorns
- 10 g Dry Ginger
- 20 g Cinnamon
- Add all the ingredients in a blender and grind well to make a smooth powder.
- Transfer in a clean glass jar.
- Store in a cool and dry place for 2-3 months.