The Story of Five Spice

Updated: 7 days ago



The Story of Chinese Five Spice started in China centuries ago. And beyond that little fact, it is not quite clear exactly when and where in China this blend began. It’s believed it was created as a medicine to balance the yin and yang of the body. By uniting the five flavors used in Chinese cooking (sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, and salty), dishes cooked with Five Spice perfectly align with the five main elements (earth, fire, water, metal, and wood) therefore creating a balance in one’s body and mind.


What Spices Are In Five Spice?


It seems there is no one consensus on that question. Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, and white pepper may all appear in Five Spice. Despite its name, five spice may have six or seven spices in it. At SpiceTopia, our organic five spice recipe includes a blend of cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns.


What Does Five Spice Taste Like?


Five Spice Seasoning has a flavor we haven’t found in any other blend. The unique flavor of star anise combines well with the sweet and warm flavors from both the cinnamon and fennel seeds. The clove adds notes of sweetness and bitterness while the Sichuan peppercorns add notes of lemon. And we can not forget to mention the numbing sensations of the clove and Sichuan peppercorns which add an interesting sensation unlike any other.


The combination of all these flavors really does need to be tasted to understand its wide appeal. Traditionally used in China to add flavor to braised or roasted dishes, the unique flavor of Five Spice lends itself to savory as well as sweet dishes.


How to Use Five Spice?


  • Five Spice is a wonderful balance for rich meats such as duck, fried chicken, or even ribs.

  • Combine with salt for a table seasoning. In Southern China, a small bowl of salt and five spice will be served along with heavy meat dishes. Bites of meat are dipped into the bowl of seasoning.

  • Season a baked fish filet.

  • Add to a simple syrup and flavor cocktails, fresh berries, and breakfast yogurts.

  • Punch up the flavor in your next batch of rice krispie treats!


Although not spicy as in hot, this blend is rather intense. “Less is more” is a good rule when cooking with five spice.


The next time you are looking for a bit of extra flavor in your food, think of Five Spice!


If you love learning about new spices, we invite you to join our SpiceScription where we explore one spice or blend each month through exclusive recipes!



Sources:

Herbs & Spices: Over 200 Herbs and Spices with Recipes by Jill Norman

The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World by Padma Lakshmi




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