Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Chinese 6 Spice. Anita's Spicy Column

We’ve all heard of Chinese 5 spice 五香粉, we’re all familiar with the savoury-warm notes of this ubiquitous spice blend. In fact, this was the only spice blend that my mum used in her cooking when I was a little girl. 

Still vivid in my memory are sights and smells of my mum’s kitchen. When I was a little girl, my mum understandably wouldn’t let me operate the wok, but she would put me in-charge of seasoning and marinating meat and vegetables. Five spice was a standard marinate that was good on everything and anything: a dash of light soy sauce, some sesame oil, a few shakes of white pepper and a teaspoon of five spice powder.

Growing up, I had no idea what this magical brown powder was - it just smells really good and mum puts it in everything. 

It didn’t occur to me that the “5” in “Chinese 5 Spice” meant that there are 5 ingredients in the blend.

Oh that makes so much sense! 😄 What are these 5?

Cinnamon, clove, black pepper, star anise and fennel seeds. Some recipes switch out black pepper for Sichuan pepper for an extra numbing effect and kick.

I personally enjoy the addition of coriander seeds in my blend, hence the name “Chinese 6 spice”. 

Am I a rebel?

I just like doing things a little different 😄 

Coriander seeds add a gentle sweetness, slightly woodsy, and warm fragrance. Try it!

I recommend toasting the cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise in a dry pan until you can smell the warm aromas of toasted spice. Then add to the pan coriander seeds, fennel and black pepper. Toast for another 2 minutes on medium heat. Be sure to keep the pan moving otherwise the more delicate spices will burn. 

Ground up the freshly toasted spices in a mortar and pestle or if you are like me and slightly lazy, an electric coffee grinder would do the job 😄 

Store in an air-tight jar or use immediately on pork, chicken, beef, duck…endless possibilities!     


2 Cinnamon Sticks  
8 Cloves  
4 Star Anise  
1 table spoon Black Peppercorns  
1 table spoon Fennel Seeds  

1 table spoon Coriander Seeds.

About Me

Hi Foodies of the Internet! 

Welcome to Anita's Spicy Column, a personal spice diary where I document my experiments with spice blends, share my experiences of cooking and baking with spice, and tell stories of my spicy life! I am a social scientist by profession, and a university lecturer based in Toronto, Canada. 

I have built for myself a grand wall of spice in my living room and it serves as my reservoir of inspiration and escape. I have my work desk just a stone throw away from this wall of spice, a very strategic move by me I must say. 

Every time I look up from my computer to take a breather, I glance over to my spice collection and it somehow relaxes and recharges me. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m crazy about all things spice. Each spice tells a story of its origin, travel and purpose. 

The humble peppercorn that is in every kitchen was first grown off India’s Malabar coast. It was used as a form of currency and was traded for gold. This fascinates me. 

Every new spice that I encounter, I would purchase a small amount to taste and learn.   

Spice is a gift that we’ve been given and I’m more than excited to be able to share this gift with everyone! 

Date: 3 Aug 2018

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I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't. All comments with genuine identities are published.