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Five spice powder

Chinese five spice powder (五香粉 or five spices powder or five-spice powder) is a convenient seasoning for Cantonese cuisine. It incorporates the five basic flavours of Chinese cooking - sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. It consists of China Tung Hing cinnamon, powdered cassia buds, powdered star anise and anise seed, ginger root, and ground cloves. Another recipe for the powder consists of cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, fennel seed, and star anise. It is used in most Cantonese roasted ducks, as well as beef stew.

The formulae are based on the Chinese philosophy of balancing the yin and yang in food. A pinch of the powder goes a long way.

Although this spice is used in restaurant cooking, many Chinese households never use it in day-to-day cooking.

A versatile seasoned salt can be easily made by stir-frying common salt with five spice powder under low heat in a dry pan until the spice and salt are well mixed.

Here's a basic recipe for home-made five spice powder.

  1. Roast two teaspoons of Szechuan peppercorns in a dry frypan for about three minutes.
  2. Grind the peppercorns in a pepper grinder or coffee grinder together with 8 star anise pods.
  3. Strain the ground spices to remove any larger bits.
  4. Mix together 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds.
  5. Grind the completed mixture until it is a very fine powder.
  6. Use sparingly, as it is extremely pungent.

see also the Wikipedia Cookbook