Chinese-American (and even traditional Chinese) cuisine is served all throughout the United States. If Chinese food is one of your favorite types of meals, you will probably enjoy spicing up your other dishes with 3 spices that are Chinese, powerfully flavorful, and delicious!
Take a simple whiff of a jar of Chinese five spice and you will most likely be reminded of the smell of entering a Chinese food restaurant. Five spice can be used in almost any Chinese dish, and packs in a lot of flavor without a lot of sweetness or heat.
The five main ingredients are cloves, cinnamon, star anise, Szechuan pepper, and fennel seed. These five are ground up finely, usually in equal parts to create a robust, aromatic, flavor-enhancing powder that you will love to sprinkle. Try Chinese five spice on eggs, in rice, or on spicy sandwiches.
Star anise is interesting in its flavor and its appearance. It's shaped like a star and has pods that hold seeds. Hailing straight from a tree native to China itself, star anise is one of the original spices from the area. You might describe its flavor as something like black licorice. You can find star anise whole and pick and grind it yourself, or you can get it pre-ground with many of the other ground spices such as onion powder or cinnamon.
Star anise is great for adding a tantalizing flavor to any Asian dish that you plan on preparing, such as spring rolls, ramen, or sushi.
Another member of the five-spice group, Szechuan peppercorns are all too often switched out with black peppercorns that make up the ground black pepper most commonly used in American restaurants next to salt. But if you want to make a dish distinctly Chinese, you need to flavor that Szechuan peppercorns bring to the table.
If you have any trouble finding Szechuan pepper(corns) at your nearest chain supermarket, try browsing at a Chinese market or farmer's market in your area. These establishments often offer a more diverse variety of items from various countries that may not be in as high demand at the larger groceries that have sites all of the country or world.
Keeping these three spices on hand in your kitchen means that you will always be at the ready to create a dish that looks, smells, and tastes like genuine Chinese cuisine! Contact a business, such as the Lilac Blossom Restaurant, for more information about Chinese food.