Kid-Friendly Chinese Five Spice
Traditional Chinese Five Spice is an aromatic blend of fennel, clove, star anise, cinnamon and Sichuan peppercorns. I swap tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns (perhaps a bit much for the kids) with black peppercorns to make a kid-friendly blend that's perfect with chicken, pork and beef and divine in these delicious meatballs.
4 star anise
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 Ceylon or 1 Cassia (regular) cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Place the cinnamon sticks between a kitchen towel and smash the barks using a meat tenderizer or rolling pin. In a heavy bottom skillet or pan, dry roast all the spices on medium heat for 1-2 minutes until aromatic but not burnt, tossing the spices around every few seconds. Transfer to a coffee grinder (preferably dedicated to spices) and blend for 1-2 minutes until ground into a fine powder. Store in an air-tight container away from heat and light and use within 6 months.