Five-spice powder is a mixture of five spices, encompassing all five flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. It is popular in Chinese cuisine, but also used in other Asian cookery.
There are many variants. The most common is bajiao (star anise), cloves, cinnamon, huajiao (Sichuan pepper) and ground fennel seeds. Instead of true cinnamon, "Chinese cinnamon" (also known as rougui, the ground bark of the cassia tree, a close relative of true cinnamon which is often sold as cinnamon), may be used. The spices need not be used in equal quantities.
Another variant is tunghing or "Chinese cinnamon", powdered cassia buds, powdered star anise and anise seed, ginger root, and ground cloves.
The formulae are based on the Chinese philosophy of balancing the yin and yang in food.
Five spice is used well with greasy meats like pork and duck. It is used in stir fried vegetables and as a spice rub for chicken, duck, pork and seafood.
Five spice is used in recipes for Cantonese roasted duck, as well as beef stew. It is also used as a marinade for Vietnamese broiled chicken. The five-spice powder mixture has followed the Chinese diaspora and has been incorporated into other national cuisines throughout Asia.
Although this mixture is used in restaurant cooking, many Chinese households do not use it in day-to-day cooking. In Hawaii, some restaurants have it on the table.
A versatile seasoned salt can be easily made by stir-frying common salt with Five-spice powder under low heat in a dry pan until the spice and salt are well mixed.
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