Chinese 5 spice powder

by Heguiberto on February 8, 2011

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I can’t think of a many dishes I like that come flavored with star anise, licorice or fennel seeds. I’m not a huge fan. My nose and palate simply cannot process these intense smells and tastes. Pernod flavored mussels? a Sambuca Romana digestif? Pastis? Licorice candy shaped like little black Scotty dogs? I’ll pass, thank you very much. Yet when I see something that seems new to me I keep trying…

Chinese five spice powder

Chinese five spice powder

Take the daikon rice cakes that I made the other day. The recipe called for a minimal amount of Chinese 5 spice powder. If you didn’t know already, one of the “five spices” in the powder is star anise. Star A’ and I aren’t really on speaking terms at the moment. I didn’t dare use a store-bought version. That’s way too strong!

Instead, since I had all the individual ingredients at home, I decided to make my own. I added star anise but not too much. I’m still not sure about it. It is fun to discover things that you love, things that you don’t and, sometimes, things that you keep on giving more chances. Star anise looks so lovely, that I keep giving it another shot.

5-spice powder is actually made with six ingredients if you include salt. Online recipes can’t seem to agree on individual ingredients and amounts used. You can find another version here and here and here.

Chinese 5 spice powder

5 cloves
1 star anise
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp Szechuan pepper corns
2 cm long cinnamon stick
¾ tsp kosher salt

Place all of the above in the electric grinder. Pulse until pulverized and voilá!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon @ Fun and Life February 8, 2011 at 7:17 am

I’m Chinese and we’ve never tried making our own 5 spice before lol. We use the star anise (didn’t know that’s what it’s called in English!) in soups quite a bit – Chinese herbal tonics that are supposed to be good for different things depending on what else you add into it. Also those red little bean-looking things. I’m not very helpful in my descriptions am I lol. Good job for making your own 5 spice! Look forward to reading what recipes you use it for :)

Heguiberto February 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Sharon,
I used this powder on the daikon rice cakes I made recently. If you have any suggestion for a vegetarian dish using it share it with me :)
I think that the Vietnamese pho soup also has star anise in it. There is a restaurant here is SF that makes a vegan version of it I am in love with. I guess I to keep on trying recipes that call for these cute little stars.
H

Sean February 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Love this! I should round up a bunch of posts demystifying spice mixes. A few people have done homemade Old Bay, for example, and of course garam masala has a million adaptations. I’m filing this away for future reference.

Heguiberto February 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Sean,
Please do!
I love making my own potions. It’s a fun thing to do and of course fresh is always best!
H

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