FIVE SPICE POWDER
Wǔxiāng fěn, 五香粉, or Chinese Five Spice Powder as it is known in Chinese cooking, has been used for millennia. Even though it is well-known, its beginnings remain a bit of a secret.
Traditional Chinese medicine appears to be the source of Five Spice Powder, according to some sources (TCM).
The combination of the five classic Chinese flavors of sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, and salty were considered to bring harmony to the body.
Tradition holds that one can achieve harmony in body and mind by consuming foods whose flavors are in harmony with the five basic elements (earth, fire, water, metal, and wood).
Let’s take a closer look to understand what this ingredient is and how to use it in Chinese cuisine.
FIVE SPICE POWDER – WHAT IS IT?
According to the brand, the moniker “Five Spice Powder” is a misnomer. Five Spice Powder is typically a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and ground Sichuan peppercorns.
Spices such as galangal, ginger, nutmeg, and orange peel are common additions to many different dishes.
No matter how many spices it contains, the warm aroma and strong flavor it exudes are enough to make a statement.
While the licorice-like flavor of the star anise is present, the cinnamon and fennel add sweetness to the dish. Both the Sichuan peppercorns and the cloves have a flowery and almost lemony flavor.
All these flavors, mixed in different proportions, produce a unique spice mixture that must be tasted to be appreciated.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO USE FIVE SPICE POWDER?
No matter what ails you, Five Spice Powder isn’t a miracle cure, but it may certainly improve bland food.
It works well as a meat seasoning (especially those high in fat).
In Chinese marinades and dry rubs, you’ll often find it.
Additionally, it can improve the flavor of foods such as fried chicken, roast duck, and even ribs. It is commonly served with fried or roasted chicken and pig in Cantonese restaurants. For optimal flavor, you can dredge meat in this seasoned salt.
Intense, despite not being spicy hot. When it comes to cooking with it, the maxim “less is more” applies.
As a result, you have my permission to try new things. It’s almost like cheating how easy it is to add nuanced flavor to a dish!
PURCHASING AND STORING
Almost any grocery store, brick-and-mortar or online, will carry this ingredient.
You can often find lower-priced options for similar products in Asian grocery stores. Like other spices, Five Spice Powder is finest when it’s fresh and very fragrant.
Five Spice Powder can be kept for several months if it is kept cool, dark, and dry. If that jar of 5 spice powder in your cabinet is three years old or more? It’s likely time for a new one.
FIVE SPICE POWDER ALTERNATIVES
If you don’t have any Five Spice Powder on hand, you can easily make it yourself.
You can experiment with the proportions of each spice to build your own blend tailored to your taste preferences rather than putting equal amounts of each spice.