The recipe should rightly be called Six Spice, since six is the number of spices it contains (though it is not uncommon for this Asian spice blend to contain more or fewer than the five of its name). One spicy theory posits that the five refers not to the number ingredients but to the numb of tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, savory, and salty) that you experience when you eat it. Whatever its etymology, this slightly exotic, powerfully alluring blend is a great match for pork, duck, and eve fattier cuts of lamb. Keep a small jar on hard to spice up a marinade, rub on a rack of ribs or season a braise or stew.
- 8 star anise pods
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan or black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 dried cayenne chile, stemmed but not seeded
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Spread the star anise, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, and cloves on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a spice grinder, combine the cooled spices and the chile and grind until reduced to a fine powder. Transfer to a tightly capped jar or other airtight container and store in a cool, dark place.