Five spices

Five spices. It is a combination of Spices used in Chinese kitchens and whose first specifications have been lost over time. As a general rule it is composed of Star Anise , which they call Bajiao; Cloves ; Cinnamon (the original); Fennel seeds and Sichuan Pepper that they call Huajiao. There are other combinations and even other species are added to it.


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  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 History
  • 3 Uses
  • 4 recipes
    • 1 Five Spices I
    • 2 Five Spices II
    • 3 Five Spices III
  • 5 External links
  • 6 Sources


Normally in the kitchen spices and condiments are used individually in such a way that the proportions of the recipe or the particular tastes of the cook and / or diners are followed. However, industries since Roman times ( Garum et al.) Have defined a group or mixture of various pre-made or pre-defined spices as would be the case with the Hindu Garam massala . But this is not the only spice put on this shelf. There are others which have already settled in the typical kitchens of some regions and which even go so far as to define certain cuisines at the international level.

Many of these are due to the fact that these spices are locally produced or from a unique terrain such as the Wasabi of Japan . Others, on the other hand, have moved from one continent to another, sometimes in the immigrant’s suitcase and other times in the hands of an industrial businessman who has wanted to improve a species or his pocket. In that case we have the curry powder, some sauces such as Worcestershire and Soy sauce (Chiyao). Others have been created specifically for a limited function (even if they use it in other things) like Barbecue sauce or HP; or the same soy sauce (not to be confused with the oyster sauce that is also black and has a similar flavor).


Ingredients of the Five Spices in their natural state.

The Five Chinese Spices is a mixture of spices that can be considered particular to Chinese cuisine, but is also used in other Asian cuisines. Although its exact origin is lost in the sands of history, some have even thought that the Chinese were trying to produce a “wonderful powder” and that it included all the five elements. These five elemental flavors: sour, salty, bitter, sweet and spicy are these Five Spices. But … it could also have been the accident of a cook stumbling over this combination of spices and realizing that he could revitalize a simple dish making it something great. In any case, regardless of their true origin, these Five Spices give a unique touch

Of course, today the specific combination to make these old Five Spices has varied AND so much that even many brands that are sold in the markets, should be labeled as “Seven Spices”, since this is the real amount of spices that contain. The standard recipe should include fennel, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and Sichuan pepper. However, some mixtures may contain Cassia, Ginger , Nutmeg , therefore one can feel free to carry out his own flavoring experiment.

Its formulation is based on the Chinese philosophy of balancing ying and yang in food. But there are many variations for this recipe. The most common is composed of star anise (bajiao), cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper (huajiao) and ground fennel seeds. Other blends use instead of true cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon (rougui), which is the ground bark of the Cassia tree, which is a close relative of true cinnamon and which is often sold as true cinnamon. In these mixtures the amounts to be used are not the same.

Another variant of the mixture is the Tunghing that is made from the Chinese Cinnamon (that is to say from the sprouts of the cassia (Cinnamomun cassia) ground), the powder of grinding the star anise along with its seeds, ground ginger, cloves ground odor.


In Chinese cuisine the use of these Five Spices is for greasy meats such as pork (pork) and duck. Although it is used with sautéed vegetables it can also be used as a seasoning to rub or sprinkle chicken, duck, pork and seafood. It is used in the recipe for duck roasted in the cantons and for stews or beef stews, and Vietnamese roasted chicken is also used as a marinade.

Container of the Five Spices for home use on restaurant tables.

The Chinese diaspora has brought these Five Spices in their matules with the incorporation of it into other national cuisines throughout Asia. However, despite the fact that this spice is widely used in restaurants, it does not happen that way in the daily use that Chinese housewives give it. In contrast, in Hawaii, some restaurants put a container with this spice on the table. A seasoned salt can easily be made by toasting the common salt with these Five Spices over low heat in a skillet while mixing well.


We have already said that there are variants to make this mixture of Five Species. Now look at the different recipes, for you to compare.

Five Spices I


  • 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns
  • 8 star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of ground Fennel Seeds

In a dry frying pan, toast the two teaspoons of the Sichuan Pepper in grains, stirring the pan over a low or medium heat until the aroma is exhaled (3 minutes). Grind these grains with the 8 star anise in a mixer or pepper mill. Use a fine sieve if desired. Mix together half a teaspoon of cloves, one tablespoon of ground cinnamon, and one tablespoon of ground fennel seeds. Re-grind everything until it is a very fine and well mixed powder. Store in an airtight container.

  • Note: use with care because the mixture can be somewhat sour. If desired, Sichuan pepper can be substituted for black pepper and anise can already be ground.

Five Spices II


  • 2 tablespoons of black pepper
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
  • 2 3-inch pieces cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves

Using a sturdy frying pan, toast the peppercorns until they exhale the aroma (1 – 2 minutes. Shake or stir the frying pan to avoid burning. Place it in a container. And repeat the operation separately the anise, the seeds of fennel, cinnamon and cloves. Pour roasted ingredients into a spice mill or coffee mill, and grind them into a fine powder. Let the mill rest for a minute before transferring to an airtight glass container. Store in a cool place , and dark for up to a month.It gives for a 1/4 cup.Note: it is used to flavor the meat and poultry of the Chinese cookbook and it is relatively easy to make.

Five Spices III

(Six Spices, per account and salt is not included.) Ingredients: 1 tablespoon ground Sichuan pepper 1 tablespoon ground star anise 1-1 / 4 tablespoon ground fennel seed 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1/2 tablespoon salt 1/4 tablespoon ground white pepper.

Combine all ingredients and pour into a small, airtight container. Store in a cool dry place.


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