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Ways to Use Five-Spice Powder

Ways to Use Five-Spice Powder


This fragrant spice blend—made from cumin, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, and cloves—gives our Five-Spice Chicken Breasts its distinctive flavor. Look for it on the spice aisle or from online retailers and use it to lend sweet depth to your everyday cooking.

Five-Spice Chicken Breasts with Sesame-Orange Beans

Five-spice powder packs some serious aromatic punch; it's all you need to season the chicken breasts here. You can sub broccoli florets or chopped kale for the green beans.

Spiced Whiskey Sour

Five-spice powder turns the classic whiskey sour into something special. You can double, triple, or quadruple the spiced sugar syrup and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Use in cocktails, or drizzle over hot oatmeal.

Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

Smoky, fiery chipotle powder counters the warm, sweet five-spice powder and the naturally sweet spuds. For less kick, use 1/4 teaspoon chipotle. Be sure to line the pan with parchment paper to help prevent burning.

Five-Spice Flank Steak

This quick spice rub lends robust flavor and helps achieve delicious charring on the surface of the meat. Flank steak is a lean cut that's relatively inexpensive; be sure to slice thinly across the grain for tender bites.

Five-Spice Orange Beef and Broccoli

Orange rind and five-spice powder perfume the dish with sweet notes that are countered by a hit of red pepper heat. Decrease the pepper for kids or folks who prefer to walk on the mild side.

Warm Spiced Cashews

Chinese five-spice powder lends a distinct toastiness to these sweet and savory nuts. They're perfect to whip-up as a quick make-ahead, crowd-pleasing appetizer for holiday entertaining.

Five-Spice Sweet Potato Pie

Five-spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns that can be found in the spice aisle of most supermarkets. If five-spice powder is unavailable, use pumpkin pie spice.

Five-Spice Salmon with Leeks in Parchment

Cooking this fish in a parchment pouch uses both the radiant heat of the oven and steam inside the packet to produce moist, succulent results. Toasting and grinding the spices takes a little extra time but pays off with vivid flavor.

Five-Spice Grilled Chicken Thighs with Blackberry Glaze

Sweet blackberry jam gets a twist from Chinese five-spice powder, a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. Find it at an Asian market. Serve with Yellow Rice with Spring Peas.

Pantry Checklist:

  • Skinless, boneless chicken thighs (8)
  • Sugar-free seedless blackberry jam
  • Cider vinegar
  • Fresh ginger
  • Five-spice powder
  • Optional: fresh blackberries

Prep: 7 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes

Five-Spice Pork Lo Mein

Chinese five-spice powder is a common spice blend that can be found in most supermarkets. Its five assertive components are cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. Cutting the cooked noodles makes them easier to combine with the other ingredients and serve.

Chinese Wide Noodles with Barbecue Pork and Dried Mushrooms

Here's a Chinese comfort-food favorite. A quick, healthy version of char siu pork amps up pork tenderloin with a marinade of sweet-salty hoisin sauce and aromatic five-spice powder—slivers of this meat meld with meaty wood ear mushrooms among chewy noodles bathed in a salty-sweet sauce. If you can't find wide lo mein noodles, try fettuccine.

Spicy-Sweet Five-Spice Breadsticks

Brush dough with 1 teaspoon melted butter. Combine 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 1/8 teaspoon five-spice powder, a dash of kosher salt, and a dash of ground red pepper. Cut dough into 8 (8 × 1/2-inch) strips. Arrange dough on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until golden.

See Nutritional Analysis


What Is Five-Spice Powder?

Although the exact origins of five-spice powder are lost to history, there is some thought that the Chinese were attempting to produce a "wonder powder" encompassing all of the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These elements are represented by the five flavors sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty. Then again, it's possible that a cook accidentally stumbled upon this particular combination of spices, and realized its power to enliven the blandest dish. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that five-spice powder is unique.


A Simple and Satisfying Five Spice Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Our New Year’s resolution here at The Modern Proper is to help you find new ways to fall in love with cooking! Whether you’re burned out from the sub-par spaghetti you’ve made a hundred times and are looking for something new, or maybe just on the hunt for a quick and delicious weeknight meal, this five spice chicken sheet pan dinner is sure to check all your culinary boxes.


Chinese Five Spice Recipes

Five Spice Powder can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some of our favorite recipes that you can make with Chinese Five Spice.

    from What a Girl Eats from This Healthy Table from A Virtual Vegan from Two Sleevers from Veggie Desserts from Daily Cooking Quest from Blackberry Babe from Sidewalk Shoes from My Sequined Life from Lost in Food from Savory Experiments from Couple in the Kitchen from Posh Journal from Went Here 8 This from Simply Stacie from Supergolden Bakes from Vikalinka from Rhubarbarians

Five Ways to Use Five-Spice

Chinese five-spice powder doesn’t include five spices. Or, at least, it doesn’t have to. And what those spices are—well, that’s up to you. Curious? Let’s scan the cookbook shelf to learn more:

Joyce Chen Cook Book, Joyce Chen: “This is a group of spices which are ground together into a powder. There are anise seed, cinnamon, licorice, clove, ginger, nutmeg, etc. The mixture is used in dishes requiring strong spice.” The key word here: etc!

Every Grain of Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop: “Whole spices may…be roasted and ground to make ‘five-spice’ combinations.” Very vague, Fuchsia. Even mysterious. She gives a shoutout to cassia bark (cinnamon’s first cousin), star anise, and Sichuan pepper as her Chinese pantry staples.

101 Easy Asian Recipes, Peter Meehan and the editors at Lucky Peach: “Cinnamon and star anise are the flavors that ride out front of most five-spice blends, cloves and fennel seed trailing behind, and peppercorns (sometimes Sichuan) in the rear, never really detectable.” Okay, okay. Now we’re getting somewhere.

The Joy of Cooking (75th anniversary edition), Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker: “The mix sometimes contains cardamom or ginger.” Hm! And yet, Joy’s recipe uses the five spices mentioned above—calling for equal amounts of each.

The Gourmet Cookbook, Ruth Reichl: “There is neither a set formula for the composition of five-spice powder nor a limit to the number of its components.” Her recipe rebels with six spices, by doubling down on Sichuan and black pepper.

And Sichuan-born, New Orleans-raised HelloMyDumpling blogger Jenny Huang includes even more ingredients than Reichl: eight, to be exact. In 2016, we challenged her to a BLT-off, which inspired her five-spice bacon. The blend calls for: coriander, cumin, black and Sichuan pepper, allspice, star anise, dried chilies, and cinnamon.

All of which goes to show just how flexible five-spice is—a blend that stretches and bends with its application. Whether you buy a jar—available in many supermarkets—or make your own mix, five-spice is as punchy as it is cozy, as floral as it is earthy, as sassy as it is agreeable. A real chameleon! It gets a lot of credit for being great on roasted meat—and yes, it is—but we’re using five-spice for a lot more than that. Here are five ways to get you started:


How to Use Five-Spice Powder

Whichever combination you use—whether store-bought or homemade—the mix is fantastic on roasted meats, especially fatty ones such as pork, beef ribs, and duck. But those aren&apost the only dishes that can benefit from this robust spice blend. The more you cook with five-spice powder, the more you&aposll realize its versatility. Deputy food editor Greg Lofts uses five spice in a range of applications, from seasoning meats before cooking to spicing up gingerbread cookies, pumpkin pies, and other baked goods that traditionally call for pumpkin pie spice or other blends that include warming spices like cinnamon, clove, and ginger. Try it on roasted nuts, toasted pita bread, citrus salads, or even in cocktails (five-spice powder works especially well in a Whiskey Sour or a Dark and Stormy).

If you&aposre making your own five-spice powder, don&apost feel you need to strictly adhere to a particular formula most Chinese chefs have their own preferences when it comes to ingredients and ratios. Keep in mind that star anise and cinnamon are the front runners round them out with some combination of cloves, cinnamon, fennel, and peppercorns. Adjust your final blends as you see fit!


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Five Spice Tea Latte

Ok. So about this Five Spice Tea Latte. I’d never heard of Chinese Five Spice powder until a luncheon I went to with Katie Chin for her new (at the time) cookbook Everyday Chinese Cooking. For the lunch, we enjoyed her Five Spice Brownies and they were divine.

What is Five Spice Powder?

Chinese Five Spice Powder is made up of a beautiful blends of Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, and fennel seeds.

You can easily find it at any Asian markets but also likely at your local grocery store. Brands like Simply Organic, Frontier Co-Op, and McCormick sell jars of it. There are also loads of other brands too.

The idea for the Five Spice Tea Latte came, however, from a blending of recipes and ideas. The first is that I’ve been enjoying chai tea lattes on occasion recently. And then there’s my cardamom latte. And then the real kicker is how DELICIOUS my Mexican Chocolate Cake and my Mexican Mocha are.

When I originally thought of creating a Five Spice Latte, I’d originally thought about a mocha. I guess this is a riff on the Mexican Chocolate Mocha with a Chinese Spice Mocha of sorts.

I may do that drink someday still, but for the time, letting the delicious combination of spices take more of a spotlight sounded good, so it’s a mix with a black tea instead!

How Do you Make A Tea Latte?

In short a tea latte is tea topped with steamed milk. To infuse the spices in this drink, dissolve honey (for sweetener) and powder into the boiling water. Then add your tea bag to steep in it the sweetened/flavored water!

And then of course, finish it off with the warm milk and a sprinkle of seasoning!


Sticky Five Spice Chicken with Carrot Radish Slaw

I love simple. Simple clothes. Simple decorations. Simple recipes. This recipe is a prime example showing that it doesn't have to take a lot of work to have an incredible meal. The carrot and radish slaw? It's simply thinly sliced carrots and radish with some cilantro leaves tossed with rice wine. That's it. Yet, it is so good. It was even better the next day - the carrots and radish had gently pickled a bit. The rice vinegar making them both sweet and tart at the same time. I think radishes are so pretty and I love finding ways to use them.

Click here to pin this Sticky Five Spice Chicken with Carrot Radish Slaw now!

The boneless, skinless chicken thighs were supposed to be cut into pieces. oops didn't read that until after I had finished. Doesn't matter, leaving them whole and skewering them worked just as well. The chicken is put in a quick and extremely flavorful marinade of oyster sauce, Chinese five-spice powder, and fresh grated ginger. Who knew a three ingredient marinade could be so good? The same person that new that a four ingredient slaw would be the perfect accompaniment. Donna Hay. She is a genius at taking simple ingredients and getting every last bit of flavor out of them.

This is served with rice and makes such an easy weeknight dinner. Her original recipe calls for green onions between the chicken pieces, but I missed that part when making out the grocery list. It was great without them, but I can see where they would have added another component. I found this recipe in her Feb/March 2013 issue, but you can also find it online, Sticky Five-Spice Chicken with Radish and Carrot Slaw


Chinese Five-Spice Peanuts: The Irresistible Snack

Ever since Robin and I developed our Five-Spice Roast Pork dish for The Lazy Gourmet (p.126) I’ve been a little bit obsessed with Chinese five-spice powder.

It’s an intriguing and hard-to-describe spice blend made of (most commonly) cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel, and Szechuan peppercorns.

While it’s usually used in savory meat, seafood, or vegetable dishes, five-spice powder’s rich, warm flavor is strangely irresistible on the sweeter side, too.

A quick Googling of “five-spice desserts” might surprise you with results like Chinese Five-Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes and Five-Spice Sweet Potato Pie.

Reader Mandy, who commented on my Ten Favorite Homemade Holiday Food Gifts (That Aren’t Cookies) post, mentioned some five-spice nuts that she’d made as a holiday gift and I thought that sounded pretty great.

While Mandy used pistachios, I decided that a huge batch of sweet and salty five-spice peanuts would be a perfect, inexpensive finger food for the housewarming party I was in the midst of planning.

And, by the way, when I say huge I mean huge. If I believed in astrology I would blame my Cancerian nature for always cooking way more than necessary.

Luckily, the six pounds of spiced nuts and seven pounds of pickled carrots that are still sitting in my fridge are freaking delicious and will stay good for weeks to come.)


Recipe FAQs

5 Spice is a mix of star anise, Chinese cinnamon, cloves, sichuan pepper and fennel seeds. It is used predominantly in Asian style dishes. For me the dominant flavour is the star anise which also features heavily in Hoisin sauce.

Serve this with some rice or noodles or a vegetable side dish such as
Pak Choi with Ginger

This is delicious and so simple, with no added fat. Dinner in minutes and so, so tasty!

Let me know what you think in the comments or you can post a picture and tag me on Twitter @chezlereve, Instagram @chezlerevefrancais, or Facebook @chezlerevefrancais.