It’s been a month since my last post- can’t believe how time flies!!! Unfortunately, my phone and laptop both broke down at the same time hence the long silence (car too actually, although that’s unrelated to my lack of posting!) so this is my 1st post on my new iMac 🙂 I don’t know about you guys but I tend to save all my passwords in my computer, so it took me a while to access all the sites I needed to get this post on homemade 5 spice powder up 😛
Why cook with homemade 5 spice powder
If you’re anything like my friends, your first question on seeing this post may be: ” WHY make your own 5 spice powder when you can get it in the supermarket at such a cheap price?” Other than the fact that I like making things from scratch, it’s good to make your own 5 spice mix because:
- The spices are fresher so the dishes you cook will be more aromatic. (Old spices lose their taste with time so you need to refresh your spice cupboard and toss old ones out every now and then. 5 spice powder only needs to be used sparingly and isn’t the most commonly-used spice, so a bottle usually loses its flavour long before one uses it up.)
- You can tailor the mix to your taste- I’ve given exact proportions for each spice in the instructions below but it’s more of a guideline so feel free to fudge the quantities. (I’d be carefully with the cloves though as it’s quite a strong spice and can be overpowering.) In fact, you don’t even have to use the same spices as I do- for example, some people replace cassia with cinnamon as the latter is more readily available outside of Asian supermarkets. In addition, Sichuan peppercorn is sometimes substituted with sand ginger or white peppercorns.
- It’s really easy to make your own 5 spice powder!
Note: There’s also a lesser-known Chinese 13-spice powder- I’ll share the recipe for that soon- it’s slightly more complicated to make as some of the ingredients are quite difficult to find.
How to reduce the 5 spices to a fine powder
- blitz it in a spice or coffee grinder
- pound it up the old-fashioned way in a mortar and pestle (it took me about 10 minutes to reduce the spices to a powder) then sieve the spice mix to remove any overly large pieces
Note: using a blender isn’t ideal as the spices will be broken down into uneven, fairly chunky bits. However, if you don’t have a spice/ coffee blender and want to save on the arm strength, you could blend it first then pound the broken spices in a mortar till you get a fine mixture.
What to use 5 spice powder in
5 spice powder goes amazingly with meat, particularly pork and chicken. In Singapore, one of the most common everyday dishes in a Chinese household is tau yew bak (literally translated as soya sauce pork) to which we add 5 spice powder to that dish- it’s really simple to make and delicious! I’ll share my family’s recipe in the next post 🙂 Other ways to use 5 spice powder include:
- braised Chinese peanuts, tofu and/ or eggs (a must-have with rice porridge)
- as a seasoning for popcorn
- as a dry-rub for roast chicken
- as well as these 9 recipes that I’ve collected from other bloggers
On the more exotic side, I’ve seen some dessert dishes that use 5 spice powder, but have not tried including it myself so no comment for now. I’d love to hear how you use this quick homemade 5 spice powder! On my end, I’m making these 5 spice braised carrots tonight!
Homemade Chinese 5 spice powder
- mortar and pestle
- OR coffee/ spice blender
- Pan and wooden/ silicone spatula
- 4 Star anise Look for broken pieces as it makes the pounding easier
- 1.5 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns
- 1 casssia stick (Chinese cinnamon) about 1-2g
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- Dry fry the spices in a pan till their fragrance is released
- Blitz the spices in a coffee or spice grinder. If you don't have one, you can also pound them by hand in a mortar and pestle. (This took me 9 minutes 52 seconds so it's not too time consuming.)
- Sieve the powder to remove any bigger bits
- Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place till you want to use it.