Do you ever look at a spice in the supermarket and wonder what it’s all about? In a day where information is at your fingertips and the biggest search engine is now a verb, you can just look it up in the middle of the grocery aisle. Well, five spice powder is one such spice that could probably use a little more context.
Five spice powder (also called Chinese five spice powder) is a combination of five or more spices predominately used in many forms of Chinese, Vietnamese and Taiwanese cuisine. As you might expect, a combination of spices adds more depth of flavor. The powder is typically used as a dry rub or marinade when roasting or braising meat or fish.
But never you mind vegans, five spice powder is also good for providing flavor to veggies and rice. Want a good reason to use your wok? Make a veggie stir-fry using the five spice powder. Carnivores can also get in on the stir-fry action with a beef or chicken and veggie stir-fry.
Last but not least, the portion of your meal that’s most likely to be voted “Let’s eat it first!” You guessed it…dessert. Sweet-tooths are not forgotten. Five spice powder can also assist in providing a little savory something to cakes and your other five star desserts.
Five Spice Powder Ingredients
So what spices are included in this mysterious blend? Well, there is no real mystery, the traditional spices include the following:
- Star Anise is used in enhancing meat and is commonly used in the production of liquor.
- Cloves are give aromatic flavor to hot beverages like Indian Spiced Milk. It also makes great marinades and it’s a standard garnish for that Easter/Christmas ham.
- Chinese Cinnamon is also called Chinese Casala and is commonly used in pickling recipes, marinades and teas.
- Sichuan Pepper has a citrus-like flavor employed for, both, culinary and medicinal purposes. The peppercorn is known to induce a tingling numbness in the mouth. It’s also available in Sichuan pepper infused oil for dipping sauces and salad dressing.
- Fennel Seeds, which are contained in the fennel fruit, is very aromatic. It is utilized in many natural toothpastes and in many cultures, it’s used for its breath freshening properties. Fun fact: When candied, fennel fruit is often used as a comfit, which is a traditional baptism gift in many countries in Europe and the Middle East.
Five Spices ingredients: (l to r) Star Anise, Chinese Cinnamon, Cloves, Sichuan Pepper, Fennel Fruit (The fennel seed is contained in the fruit).