Chinese cuisine as a whole has a very light and simple touch to it. Their recipes are not bathed in spices or seasonings, but they may use some spices to just lift the flavor and aroma of the dishes.
Chinese Spices To Delight Food Lovers
Star anise is also commonly called Chinese star anise, because it is primarily grown and cultivated in China. Apart from its country of origin, the spice has also got its name due to its popular use in Chinese cuisines.
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The fancy name of the spice has been contributed by its unique 8 handed star shape. Each extension of the fruit consists of a light mahogany colored seed and the seed pod has a rich dark brown color.
Keeping the looks aside, this world famous and Chinese essential spice has a pungent smell, which makes it a must have for meat and poultry dishes. Star anise is also one of the essential spices of the Chinese five-spice powder.
Sichuan peppercorn is another popularly used Chinese spice. The spice is actually a seeded pod which looks dark brown or blackish in color. The seeds are discarded due to their grainy texture and only the pod is used in recipes.
Popularly used in the Sichuan province of China, the spice has derived its name from the same. This spice is often used in combination with ginger and star anise to make five-spice powder.
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Sichuan peppercorns do not have a hot or pungent flavor like black pepper; rather it has a somewhat acidic or zesty flavor that numbs the senses on coming in contact with the skin. The tanginess of the spice is believed to prepare the ground for hotter and spicier Sichuan dishes. It is normally recommended to roast and grind the spice before incorporating it into dishes.
Ginger is also incorporated into Chinese recipes to enhance the aroma and to impart a warm flavor to the dish. Ginger is used in both root and in powdered form. But the flavors may slightly differ in the two cases.
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This is because ginger root is the raw form; while, the powder is a purified and additive added option. Many Chinese dishes may be seen using bite sized ginger roots in them.
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Cinnamon is another distinctive spices used in Chinese cooking. It is used as an ingredient in the Chinese five-spice powder. Apart from that, this sweet flavored aromatic spice is also used in combination with other spices in many Chinese recipes that use large amounts of broth as a cooking medium.
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Cinnamon is the bark of a tree, which is dark brown in color and has a sweet flavor. It is used in stews and soups to enhance the aroma and flavor of the dish.
Chinese Five-Spice Powder
Chinese five-spice powder is the most popular and traditional spice powder of China. It is the blend of various spices that are also separately used in Chinese cooking like star anise, cinnamon, clove etc.
Spices that are used to make the five-spice powder are Sichuan peppes, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise and cloves. Although the name of this spice powder is five-spice, but the ingredients may increase in number and may vary in different regions of China.
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The five-spice powder is simply a mark of Chinese cuisine. You may say that Chinese cooking and the five-spice powder are the two sides of the same coin. Chinese cuisine is simply non existent without the five spice powder.