In theory, five spice (also known as Chinese Five or 5 Spice Powder), came about as a result of the Chinese philosophy of balancing the five main flavors of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. These flavors were representative of all the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
Traditionally, Chinese five spice is a blend of cinnamon, ground cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and Szechuan pepper. Although, in other countries, specifically in Arabic cookery, they may use a blend seven spices made with different ingredients, such as allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, fenugreek, nutmeg and ginger.
The powerful mixture of five spice powder has been mainly used in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. It works beautifully as a seasoning with fatty meats like pork and duck. You can add 5-spice for making rubs and marinades for all types of meat from beef, and poultry to sea food. Because of the nature of the five spice ingredients, it would be fun to add a dash of it to your desserts and baking recipes.
The idea of balancing flavors in food can leave you with a sense of well-being in your cooking pursuits. But even though the five primary ingredients in the authentic version of five spice does not contain any salt, there must be a constituent of saltiness found in one of the components that creates a salty flavor. Yet, if it is saltiness you want then try adding the five spice blend to make your own seasoned salt. For an unexpected warm flavor, add a dash of five spice in salad dressings, stir-fries, rice casseroles, or just simply use it as a table condiment.
Because of the potency of Chinese five spice, it is best to use it in moderation. This powder can lose its potency so we recommend buying small quantities and storing it in a cool, dark place. A touch of Chinese five spice will transform any dish you make. Just have fun using it!
We'd like to leave you with this very tasty 5-Spice Chicken Stir-fry recipe from our kitchen to yours: 5-Spice Chicken Stir-fry with Cashews - click link.
From all of us at Whole Spice, we wish you a Happy Holiday Season!