Let’s make 2 tablespoons of Sichuan 5-Spice Powder
- 1 rounded tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 rounded tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns, outside husks only
- 5 large star anise pods
- 8 cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sichuan peppercorns are not related to pepper at all, but are an entirely different species. All of the mildly pungent, slightly citrusy flavor resides in the outer husks of the fruit, not in the tough black seeds. For best results take your time and discard all of these seeds; they don’t have any flavor and will only add an undesirable, gritty texture to your blend. Only the outer husk should be used in the best-quality 5-spice powder.
1. In a small skillet over medium heat toast the following whole spices, one batch at a time: fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, and cloves. Most of the whole spices will toast within 1 1⁄2 to 2 minutes at the most, with the star anise taking a little longer. Watch the spices carefully to make sure they don’t burn; when the spices become fragrant and lightly browned it’s time to transfer them to a small bowl.
2. Grind all of the toasted whole spices together in a spice grinder or clean coffee mill as fine as possible; make sure the star anise is completely ground. Add the ground cinnamon and pulse a few times until everything is combined. Store the spice blend in a clean glass jar, tightly sealed. And you guessed it, use within 3 months for the best flavor. White Peppercorn 5-Spice Powder: Substitute whole white peppercorns for the Sichuan pepper and proceed as directed. An alternative to using Sichuan pepper; while not too authentic, the white peppercorns’ sharp dry heat will produce a slightly hotter and mildly bitter 5-spice.