Thursday, March 4, 2010

0 Recipe #82: Five-Spice Powder

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I know I said I was going to take a breather, but since I got most of the cleaning done today in anticipation of my parents' imminent arrival (i.e., tomorrow!), I decided to sneak in another spice mix recipe post, this time for five-spice powder. Then, starting tomorrow, I'm actually going to take a much-needed break, & will return to 'business-as-usual' on Monday.

Of course, the nice thing about spice mix recipes is that they take less than a minute to type up, & even less time to blend together. This way, I'm able to give you another recipe, but without the usual laborious rigamarole that goes into the recipe-creation process.

As most of you probably already know, five-spice powder is used to enhance flavor in many Chinese dishes. This particular blend is one I created for use in all sorts of dishes -- soups, stir-fries, etc., you name it.... A recipe I was making called for five-spice powder; since I didn't have any on hand at the time, I decided to make the mixture myself.  I often do this for a lot of spice blends.  Why buy it in a store, when I've got all the ingredients right there in my kitchen, & can easily whip up a batch in mere seconds.

The thing I've noticed about a lot of existing store-bought five-spice blends (or even existing recipes on the web!) is that they tend to be a little bit too heavy on the pepper.  While I do like hot & spicy dishes, I've found that blow-your-head-off, atomically-hot is not always so good in certain types of dishes. For example, if you overspice soup, certain highly pungent flavors -- i.e., pepper, ginger, etc.--  tend to be magnified by the surrounding broth.  Also, it's hard to taste anything other than spice, & the intensity of those spices throw the flavor balance off. Personally, I like to be able to taste my soup without requiring other liquids to wash away the piquancy!

Anyhow, I created this particular version of five-spice powder to suit the conventional American palate. This is not to say that the mixture isn't authentically Chinese in terms of ingredients -- All the typical ones are present; it's just that the amounts have been modified a bit. Hope you enjoy it!

Five-Spice Powder

2 Tbsp. ground fennel seeds
2 Tbsp. ground star anise
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground cloves
1/2 Tbsp. ground Szechwan pepper (if unavailable, substitute ground black pepper)
1/2 Tbsp. ground white pepper

Directions: Mix together thoroughly & store in a sealed container in a cool, dry, dark place, i.e., in a kitchen cabinet.

Yield: 7 Tbsp., or almost a 1/2 c.

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