The five elements of the cosmos—earth, fire, metal, water, and wood—are represented by five-spice powder. Here's how to make your own.
Five-spice powder is a traditional Chinese seasoning blend with five components that imparts bitterness, sweetness, and pungency to food. We use it in spice rubs, glazes, sauces, and stews. Most Chinese blends include cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel, and Sichuan peppercorns, while American-made versions substitute white peppercorns for the Sichuan kind. This blend’s impact is even greater when you grind your own from whole spices.
To make your own: Process 1 tablespoon whole cloves, 2 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, and 2 teaspoons white peppercorns (or 4 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns) in spice grinder until finely ground, 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to small bowl. Process 4 to 6 star anise pods (depending on size) and one 5- to 6-inch cinnamon stick in spice grinder until finely ground, 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with other spices and stir to combine. Yield: About 1/4 cup.