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…
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
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!