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(Chinese) Five-Spice Powder - what's in it?

(Chinese) Five-Spice Powder - what's in it?
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  • (Chinese) Five-Spice Powder - what's in it?

    Post #1 - September 8th, 2020, 10:12 am
    Post #1 - September 8th, 2020, 10:12 am Post #1 - September 8th, 2020, 10:12 am
    Looking online, it's hard to find even two takes on this blend that are identical. Not being a huge fan of the versions I've had, I never knew this was such a moving target. Is there a definitive combination of spices that comprise five-spice powder or is it strictly subject to preferences?

    Thanks,

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #2 - September 8th, 2020, 10:31 am
    Post #2 - September 8th, 2020, 10:31 am Post #2 - September 8th, 2020, 10:31 am
    It’s like garam masala — there’s no *one* version. I think cinnamon, star anise, fennel seed, and Sichuan peppercorns are usually present, but I’ve also seen dried orange peel, dried ginger, etc.
  • Post #3 - September 8th, 2020, 3:27 pm
    Post #3 - September 8th, 2020, 3:27 pm Post #3 - September 8th, 2020, 3:27 pm
    Hey Ronnie -

    I've been down that rabbit hole. I believe I took the ideas of 3 or 4 sites and made what seemed right for the dish.
  • Post #4 - September 8th, 2020, 4:32 pm
    Post #4 - September 8th, 2020, 4:32 pm Post #4 - September 8th, 2020, 4:32 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Is there a definitive combination of spices that comprise five-spice powder or is it strictly subject to preferences?

    None I know of, no canonical 5-Spice or, for that matter, 7-Spice. Were I going down that particular rabbit hole a good place to start Chinese Cooking Demystified A few years ago I went down the Old Bay rabbit hole, I still carry the scars.

    How to Make Chinese Five Spice (五香粉)

    How to make some homemade five spice powder! A quick video - there's not all that much going on here - but we figured it'd be a useful one to have in the back-catalog.

    INGREDIENTS:
    - Star Anise (八角), 1
    - Sichuan Peppercorn (花椒), 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
    - Cinnamon a.k.a. Cassia bark (桂皮), 1/4 stick
    - Fennel seed (小茴香), 2 tsp
    - Cloves (丁香), 4 whole cloves

    Obviously there's a ton of different mixes, I'll list out some others in the notes below.

    PROCESS:

    1. Optional: Toast your spices. Over a low flame toast the star anise, cinnamon, and clove for ~3-4 minutes, then add in the fennel and toast for another ~3 minutes.

    2. Grind using a coffee/spice grinder or mortar. Pass through a fine mesh sieve.

    3. Take the remaining coarse bits and grind those again. Then pass everything through the sieve again. Either discard the coarse bits, or save them for something like tea eggs to flavor the liquid.
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - September 8th, 2020, 5:12 pm
    Post #5 - September 8th, 2020, 5:12 pm Post #5 - September 8th, 2020, 5:12 pm
    cilantro wrote:It’s like garam masala — there’s no *one* version.

    I have used Chinese five-spice powder as a substitute for garam masala.

    The five spice powder on the shelf has: fennel, anise, ginger, cinnamon, clove.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - September 8th, 2020, 6:08 pm
    Post #6 - September 8th, 2020, 6:08 pm Post #6 - September 8th, 2020, 6:08 pm
    rabbit hole, see: panch phoran: once thought I had the SWAD version down and my culinarian friend who I met years ago in Chicago, born outside of Mumbai, now of Hong Kong, took me to task on social media. Also, her mom, who I have never met, makes the best garam masala, evah. She sometimes sent me some back with her daughter on return from Punna. And, back on track, I always have a good 5 Spice on hand, even made it myself a few times.
    Last edited by Christopher Gordon on September 8th, 2020, 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #7 - September 8th, 2020, 10:35 pm
    Post #7 - September 8th, 2020, 10:35 pm Post #7 - September 8th, 2020, 10:35 pm
    cilantro wrote:It’s like garam masala — there’s no *one* version. I think cinnamon, star anise, fennel seed, and Sichuan peppercorns are usually present, but I’ve also seen dried orange peel, dried ginger, etc.

    Yeah, the biggest variable I have encountered is with the Sichuan peppercorns, which are often omitted in favor of white peppercorns. Guessing this is in order to accommodate those who cannot source Sichuan peppercorns. It'd be a shame if that were the only reason.

    lougord99 wrote:I've been down that rabbit hole. I believe I took the ideas of 3 or 4 sites and made what seemed right for the dish.

    This is what I was planning to do, especially since I have just about everything on hand to follow any number of recipes.

    G Wiv wrote:Were I going down that particular rabbit hole a good place to start Chinese Cooking Demystified A few years ago I went down the Old Bay rabbit hole, I still carry the scars.

    LOL, thank you. That's a Columbo-solid lead. :)

    Cathy2 wrote:The five spice powder on the shelf has: fennel, anise, ginger, cinnamon, clove.

    Thanks. Assuming you mean star anise, not anise seed, this seems to be a very common --perhaps, the most common -- recipe I've seen online.

    Christopher Gordon wrote:rabbit hole, see: panch poram: once thought I had the SWAD version down and my culinarian friend who I met years ago in Chicago, born outside of Mumbai, now of Hong Kong, took me to task on social media. Also, her mom, who I have never met, makes the best garam masala, evah. She sometimes sent me some back with her daughter on return from Punna. And, back on track, I always have a good 5 Spice on hand, even made it myself a few times.

    Damn -- you're lucky have had a hook-up like that. I once mentioned to an Indian business associate that I was dabbling with a few dishes. He seemed excited and offered to send me some spices but what showed up were commercially-packaged pre-made mixes. :(

    I do plan on making this myself and think I have a pretty good idea of how to proceed. Thanks, all. I'll be sure to report back, as I use 2 or 3 teaspoons of the stuff over the next year! :lol: Nah, in all seriousness, making a balanced version from scratch with freshly-ground components will, hopefully, help me understand and appreciate the beauty of this blend, which has never been at the top of my list. I've always had store-bought versions and what I've found is that the cinnamon fades the slowest, so after the five-spice gets some age on it, that note becomes way too dominant.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #8 - September 8th, 2020, 11:32 pm
    Post #8 - September 8th, 2020, 11:32 pm Post #8 - September 8th, 2020, 11:32 pm
    According to CI
    In traditional Chinese cooking, the five elements of the cosmos—earth, fire, metal, water, and wood—are represented by five-spice powder. Most blends from China include cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel, and Sichuan pepper. (Companies selling five-spice powder in America substitute white or black pepper for Sichuan because for many years its import was banned due to a citrus canker.)
    Of course, most of the article is paywalled.

    Have you looked at the 10 Spice recipe from China Moon?

    Also, just found this from Serious Eats Five Spice Powder Recipe
    The thing about quotes on the internet is you can not confirm their validity. -- Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #9 - September 9th, 2020, 5:29 am
    Post #9 - September 9th, 2020, 5:29 am Post #9 - September 9th, 2020, 5:29 am
    I use Penzy’s blend which I find very pleasant.
    “ Hand-mixed from: China cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves.”

    Five Spice is quite different than Garam Masala.
    -Richard
  • Post #10 - September 9th, 2020, 6:00 am
    Post #10 - September 9th, 2020, 6:00 am Post #10 - September 9th, 2020, 6:00 am
    I agree, I would never substitute garam masala of any provenance for 5 Spice: wildly different
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #11 - September 9th, 2020, 8:21 am
    Post #11 - September 9th, 2020, 8:21 am Post #11 - September 9th, 2020, 8:21 am
    The information provided earlier was taken from the label. You can assume they meant star anise, which is probably correct though not spelled out.

    ***

    Garam Masala has whole spices of cinnamon, mace, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and cardamon pods.

    For the teaspoon I needed for a recipe, I used the five-spice powder. The house did not shake nor did my family throw up their hands in horror. I don't even recall what I made.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - September 9th, 2020, 10:55 am
    Post #12 - September 9th, 2020, 10:55 am Post #12 - September 9th, 2020, 10:55 am
    Xexo wrote:According to CI
    In traditional Chinese cooking, the five elements of the cosmos—earth, fire, metal, water, and wood—are represented by five-spice powder. Most blends from China include cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel, and Sichuan pepper. (Companies selling five-spice powder in America substitute white or black pepper for Sichuan because for many years its import was banned due to a citrus canker.)

    Yes. Now that you mention it, I do remember this.

    Xexo wrote:Have you looked at the 10 Spice recipe from China Moon?

    No . . . gotta walk before I run, lol! :lol:
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #13 - September 9th, 2020, 5:06 pm
    Post #13 - September 9th, 2020, 5:06 pm Post #13 - September 9th, 2020, 5:06 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:No . . . gotta walk before I run, lol! :lol:
    I gotta say, your "walk" equals me running the Boston Marathon. Something I will never be able to do. :mrgreen:
    The thing about quotes on the internet is you can not confirm their validity. -- Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #14 - September 10th, 2020, 10:13 am
    Post #14 - September 10th, 2020, 10:13 am Post #14 - September 10th, 2020, 10:13 am
    Via Hoopla, China Moon is available to check out for free (via your library card, if they subscribe).
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast

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