One of the other spices, or spice blends, that you should also grab when you’re ordering from the Asian market is five spice powder.
Five-spice powder or Wuxiang powder is a very powerful spice blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns—that is a very common ingredient in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine.
Some other spices that are often used to make five spice powder include ginger, nutmeg, licorice, turmeric, cardamom, Mandarin orange peel, and galangal.
Sure, you can buy this five spice seasoning online or at the Asian market…
But some cooks claim that making five spice powder in your own kitchen creates a more fragrant spice mix, allows you to flavor exactly how you want it, and makes the flavor more intense.
Making five spice powder as you need it, will also keep the flavors as rich and fresh as possible.
To make your own five spice powder,
- Toast 2tsp Szechuan peppercorns in a dry skillet or wok over medium heat, about three minutes.
- Grind any whole spices—such as whole cloves, fennel seed, Szechwan peppercorns, or star anise—in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. To make sure that you have the quantity of powder once you finish grinding these, start with about 1.5 times the quantity of the whole spice as you need powder—such as 2Tbsp of star anise seeds to make 1Tbsp powder.
- Mix in 1Tbsp each of the following—ground cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and fennel seed. You could also consider adding a teaspoon or so of black pepper, ginger, nutmeg, or any of the other spices mentioned above.
- Grind them together in your coffee grinder until the powder is an even consistency.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place until ready to use.
Tips on Using Five Spice Powder.
- Add five spice powder to your skillet at the start of cooking so that the spices will permeate the whole dish.
- Add small amounts of the spice mixture to your dish while you are cooking. The flavor can be quite intense, and it is easy to ruin a dish by adding too much.
- Taste your food frequently until you find the amount of sice that you want.
- Use five-spice powder sparingly. A tiny amount goes a long way.
One of the most common dishes that contains five-spice seasoning is Princess Chicken…
- 1 1/2Tbsp soy sauce
- 1Tbsp dry sherry
- 1/2tsp five-spice powder
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3Tbsp cooking oil
- 2 thin slices ginger
- 1/2 onion (peeled and chopped)
- 1/2tsp paprika (or to taste)
- 4oz sliced mushrooms
- 2Tbsp water or chicken broth
- 3/4C cashews
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 2tsp soy sauce
- 1/2tsp sugar
- 1/2tsp sesame oil
Marinade your chicken..Combine soy sauce, sherry, five-spice powder, and cornstarch. Add the chicken, coating thoroughly in the marinade. Let marinade in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Cook your chicken…Heat 2Tbsp oil in a wok. Once the oil is hot, add one slice of ginger. Let brown for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the ginger from the oil. Add the chicken. Cook 5 minutes, until the chicken is nearly cooked.
Cook your veggies…Remove and wipe the wok clean. Add Tbsp oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the remaining slice of ginger. Brown the ginger. Remove from the pan. Add the onion and paprika. Cook 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cashews, red red bell peppers. Add more oil if you need to.Cook another minute.
Finish making the dish..Add the chicken back into the pan. Stir in dark soy sauce and sugar. Cook for another minute. Remove from heat. Stir in the sesame oil.