CHINESE FIVE SPICE
Names can be misleading. Take our old friend Chinese Five Spice
for example. This versatile blend doesn’t always contain just five spices. Because it’s not really about the number of spices at all, rather the number of different flavour profiles found in the blend—we’ll explain what we mean in just a sec.
Popular in Taiwanese and Chinese cuisines, the exact origins of the blend might be unknown, but the “why” for this particular spice-mix’s creation is less of a mystery. The blend is said to be inspired by the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. In traditional Chinese medicine it’s believed that the five elements are reflected in various organs of the body (heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney), and any imbalance of these elements can lead to illness and disease. So for centuries, people have been using spices and herbs to help bring balance to these elements, and therefore their bodies. Which is where Chinese Five Spice came into play.
The elements and corresponding organs are represented through five essential flavours: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty. So, again. The idea behind Chinese Five Spice is less about the number of spices and more about capturing those element-balancing flavours that have become iconic in Chinese cuisine.
Speaking of flavour—this blend has it. And lots of it. Spicewalla’s blend is a balanced combination of cinnamon, clove, fennel seed, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. Creating flavorful blasts of warm, sweet, spicy, and bitter all in one go. While this ingredient list is the “norm” for Chinese Five Spice, like most blends out there, recipes can vary to include ingredients like orange peel, ginger, or white pepper.
Since the blend manages to effortlessly hit all the major flavour profiles, it’s a highly recommended (by us) essential for your spice collection. Obviously the blend is delicious in Chinese and East Asian cuisines, but don’t limit yourself. It’s equally tasty as a dry rub or marinade for whatever protein you're feeling, or as a seasoning for some battered & fried shrimp. Toss some in a slow-simmering stew or your next stir fry, or even on roasted veggies & nuts for a tasty snack! Check out our latest Chinese Five Spice inspired recipe for spicy Pork Cabbage Wraps here