At once musky and sweet, with a pronounced kick, five spice is traditionally made from equal parts cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and peppercorns (usually Sichuan or white). This one, adapted from Kian Lam Kho, the author of “Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking” (Clarkson Potter, 2015), includes Sichuan peppercorns to give the mix a characteristically numbing, tingly sensation on the tongue known as mala. Once the spices are toasted and mixed, the blend can be used both whole (simmered into stews, braises and soups) and ground (added to sauces, roasted meats and vegetables). Or, stir some salt into the ground blend and use it as a piquant table condiment: It’s wonderful sprinkled on everything from barbecued meats to scrambled eggs.
- Serves: 1 person
- 1(2-inch/5-gram) piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 1 ½teaspoons/5 grams fennel seeds
- 5whole star anise pods (5 grams)
- 3 ½teaspoons/5 grams Sichuan peppercorns
- 2teaspoons/5 grams whole cloves
Step 1Place a small skillet over medium heat. Add spices and toast, stirring, until fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool. If using the whole spices for a braise, they are ready to go.
Step 2To make the spices into a powder, use a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle to grind the spices until fine. If you like, you can strain the mix through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any coarse bits, but this is optional. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.