Warm, sweet, and wondrous, Chinese five spice is a favorite for barbecue, braised dishes, roasted veggies, quick stir fries, noodle dishes, and even desserts. This blend creates a shortcut into authentic Chinese flavors, but you’ll soon find yourself fusing it into all types of cooking. If you have a favorite way to use Chinese five spice, let us know about it in the comments below.
What is Chinese Five Spice?
Chinese five spice is a traditional blend that unites the five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory. You will find this spice blend used within the cuisines of China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Hawaii.
While the name implies only five ingredients, blends vary in the spices they’re made from. Chinese five spice recipes may include Sichuan peppercorn, clove, star anise, cinnamon, fennel seed, ginger root, galangal root, orange peel, mandarin orange peel, black peppercorn, or white peppercorn.
In the United States, most five spice blends exclude Sichuan peppercorns. We have crafted our version with freshly ground cinnamon, star anise, fennel seed, orange peel, and green Sichuan peppercorns. Traditionally, red Sichuan peppercorns are used for this blend. We chose these ingredients to bring you a more unique blend that carries tempting notes of citrus.
The blend’s sweet and bitter notes lend themselves well to rich and fatty foods. Pork is a natural pairing for these flavors, especially ribs, pork belly, Char siu pork, and ground pork dishes like mapo tofu. Try mixing the blend with salt and optional brown sugar to create a quick and delectable barbecue rub for smoked ribs or roasted pork loin. We love using Chinese five spice for braised pork belly. This sweet, sticky, and savory dish is an outstanding party appetizer.
All The Poultry
Turkey, chicken, and, especially, duck are excellent with Chinese five spice. Peking duck just isn’t the same without a little five spice. It’s also a distinct element to the popular Hawaiian dish, Shoyu Chicken. Combine Chinese five spice with cayenne, salt, and black pepper, and you have a tasty dry rub for chicken wings. Try roasting these wings in the oven, or tossing them on the grill.
Brilliant Barbecue Sauce
We already suggested this spice blend as a dry rub for smoked ribs, but don’t forget about the sauce! Making barbecue sauce can be as simple as whisking together ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar. Spices make the sauce delightfully sophisticated, and Chinese five spice is an ideal choice. Check our tips on making homemade barbecue sauce to learn more.
Spiced Sweet Tooth
Chinese five spice toes the line between many flavors, and you can certainly lean into the sweeter ones. Try this blend for favorite baking recipes like apple pie, snickerdoodle cookies, or cinnamon rolls. A sprinkle of five spice also makes fruit taste sweeter. Try adding a pinch to your morning smoothie, or sprinkling some over cereal with chopped fruit. The cinnamon and Sichuan peppercorn flavor pair especially well with stone fruit, such as peaches or plums. Try this blend for a grilled stone fruit ice cream sundae.
Five-Star Stir Fry
Stir fry is fun, fast, easy, and flavorful. Simply sear your favorite protein in oil before tossing in a medley of vegetables. To finish the dish, you can deglaze it with a simple stir fry sauce made from a teaspoon of Chinese five spice, a teaspoon of minced garlic, two or three tablespoons of soy sauce, oyster sauce to taste, and a splash of water. Don’t forget the side of steamed jasmine rice!