I was reading My Kitchen in Half Cups featuring a Five Spice Baked Chicken and wondered whether it would be possible to put together my own Five Spice Mix since I obviously can't find the prepackaged deal here.
Some sources say that the mix may or may not contain the following spices: fennel, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, cassia, ginger, nutmeg and licorice. Another source mentions Chinese cinnamon, the ground bark of the cassia tree, powdered cassia buds and cloves in addition to the aforementioned ingredients.
In other words, there are probably as many versions of the Five Spice Mix as there are family names, as far as the detailed proportions of how much of what spice goes into it and at the end of the day one can modify and experiment. After all cooking is all about controlling taste, right?
That said it's always a good idea to start out with a good basic recipe from a source you can trust, and I asked Yohanna of Yohanna's Culinary Journey if she could give me a recipe for putting together my very own Five Spice Mix and here it is. She uses 7 spices in her mix and it's not just grinding and mixing them but you need to toast some of them.
Once you've made her version of lovely Five Spice Mix and know what it's supposed to taste like more or less you can make small adjustments on making one of the elements stronger or weaker should you wish to. Spices being natural products will vary from batch to batch so like a good Barista you will probably in all reality have to make small adjustments to get the exact same taste every time.
That said there's no need to be this fussy - so I'd just go ahead and make it the way Yohana does every time, which is what I'm going to do!
Some recipes using Five Spice Mix:
Five-Spice Roast Chicken
Five Spice and Orange Duck
Peking Chicken with Steamed Buns
Five Spice Powder Frosting
Chinese Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps
Disclaimer: I haven't actually tried making any of the above yet, even though I might at some point because they sound interesting. If you make any of these - please let me know how it turned out!