With about 170 years of Chinese influence on the culinary culture of the Caribbean, you’ll notice that many of the dishes I share on here resembles what you’d consider to be “Chinese Food”. And with that in mind, one of the more popular ingredients we use besides sauces (soy, oyster, sesame, Hoisin etc) is Chinese 5 Spice Powder. That aromatic combination of spices which adds so much depth, warmth and unique flavor to recipes. While you can get it sold (already made), I recommend making your own as you can tailor it to your own liking.
4-5 Star Anise
1 teaspoon Cloves
1 stick Cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon Fennel Seeds
2 teaspoon Sichuan Peppercorns
Note! I spoke above about tailoring the ingredients to your own liking and a good example is my use of Star Anise and Fennell Seeds in this recipe. I’m not the biggest fan of any ingredient with that licorice flavor, so I held back a bit. Add a bit more if you want. Additionally I added a bit more than 2 teaspoon of the Sichuan Pepper as I enjoy the numbing effect they bring to the table.
Tip 1. You may toast the ingredients in a dry pan on low heat (before you grind them) if you want to have the flavors more pronounced. I didn’t as I find that since I stored most of this (you don’t need much in cooking), the toasted flavor does not last long.
Tip 2. I smashed the cinnamon stick and Star Anise to help make it easier for my spice grinder (a coffee grinder will work too).
Tip 3. If you don’t have a spice (or coffee) grinder, with some work you can do this with your mortar and pestle. A HIGH speed blender will work too.
Tip 4. While the Sichuan Peppercorns can be source on Amazon, I found the prices to be ridiculous. I got much cheaper options at the local Bulk Barn (bulk store). Try Asian supermarkets too.
Basically all you have to do is place all the ingredients into your spice grinder and pulse until you get a powder consistency. If it’s taking long to get to a powder, stop and allow it to cool before working it further. The heat from the blades can change the flavor of the overall 5 Spice Powder.
Tip 5. Store in a dry, airtight container in a cool dark place as you do all your other spices. Try the local dollar store as they usually have good glass jar with a tight seal, at reasonable prices.
Did you know? The first wave of Chinese Indentured Works started arriving in the Caribbean around 1853 on ships like Dudbrook and Little Red Riding Hood from China to Trinidad and Tobago and other islands in the Caribbean (Jamaican, Cuba and Guyana).
Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @ CaribbeanPot.com/CookBook/