Food - Drink
What's Really In Chinese Five-Spice Powder?
By ELIZABETH BLASI
Chinese five-spice powder has both Chinese and Taiwanese roots, and is rumored to have begun as a medicinal product meant to balance yin and yang by using cool and warm flavors. While traditional Chinese five-spice powder can involve variations and tweaks from various regions across China, making a basic homemade version is within reach.
As you might guess, this fragrant and delicious spice blend is made from an equal mixture of five ingredients. Cinnamon is sweet with a slightly spicy undertone; Sichuan peppercorn is slightly spicy, numbing, and tingly; and cloves and fennel add more sweetness, contrasting with the more bitter, licorice-like flavor of star anise.
If you can't find some of these traditional ingredients or you're looking for tasty variations, you can perform a few swaps. Do not substitute black peppercorn for Sichuan peppercorn; instead, opt for white peppercorn. You can also swap in orange peels for cloves and use Saigon cinnamon for a more traditional southern Chinese flavor.