Knowing your Spice Powders

A Stick of Cinnamon Bark, Cloves and a Star Anise

Wonder if you can call this a cooking tip. But knowing the difference between your spice powders can actually help you in knowing which ingredients match with your food to produce the best combination. Here are two types of Spice Powders that can be pretty confusing if you are not West Indian or Chinese.

Chinese Five Spice Powder

Consists of:

Szechuan Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cumin, Star Anise

All Spice Powder

Ground berries of the tropical evergreen tree (Pimenta dioica) belonging to the Myrtle family. The tree is indigenous to Central America and the West Indies.

The Powder resembles a combination of Cloves, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg.

Uses of the Spice Powders
Five Spice Powder:
  • Mainly used to Chinese cuisine mainly in the marination of roast chicken, duck or pork.
  • The sauce and marinate of Braised Duck (Singapore dish) contains primarily of Five Spice Powder, Dark Soya Sauce and several other spices.
  • There is a growing trend of fusion cuisine which uses Five Spice Powder as a marinate for meats.

All Spice Powder:

  • Jerk Seasoning
  • Mole Sauces
  • Pickling
  • Curry Powder
  • Sausage seasoning
  • Flavouring stews and meat dishes
  • Barbecue sauces
  • Cakes and pastries

Thus you can see the difference in the flavours between these two powders. Five Spice Powder tends to smell sweeter. The inclusion of Szechuan pepper gives it the peppery flavour (but not as spicy as pepper itself. Be careful not to mix up the two spice powders in recipe as your cakes will taste extremely weird with Five Spice Powder! Even though you can use them interchangeably for marinating your meats to give variance in flavours.

Spice up your life!


Chef Tom said...

My local grocery never has Five Spice Powder, I always have to drive to the gourmet market, luckily it isn't too far away from home!

SheR. said...

Hi Thanks for dropping by. Usually my mum doesn't like to buy 5 spice powder in big packages as the powder does not keep well. Loses flavour quickly. Best is to get all the ingredients and grind it yourself!

Sorina said...

You have a very nice blog, good post...keep up the good job

SheR. said...

Hi Sorina! Thanks for the encouragement! :)

coco said...

Hi Sher,

I like the post and the pic too!

SheR. said...

:) Thank you coco.