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For Fried Rice That's Bursting With Flavor, You Need 5-Spice Powder

Pile of five-spice powder in a dish surrounded by spices
Pile of five-spice powder in a dish surrounded by spices - chenfengchen/Shutterstock

Fried rice tends to be a mild dish that doesn't rely on a ton of heavy seasonings. As the lighter option on most Chinese food menus and buffets, it offsets the more heavily seasoned meats and vegetables that it accompanies. Typically, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and green onions are responsible for its traditional taste. But that doesn't mean you can't add extra spices to liven it up. Ginger is one possibility, as are chili peppers or powder. However, if you want fried rice that is absolutely bursting with flavor, reach for the five-spice powder!

The spice combo truly hits on all of the right notes -- and while it is intense, it's also well-balanced. So you can expect it to give that fried rice a bold, vibrant flavor that will hold a special place in your taste memories. Five-spice powder works especially well with fattier meats, so be sure to give it a try the next time you're making pork fried rice as an entrée.

Read more: 5 Rice Brands To Buy, And 5 To Avoid

What Is 5-Spice Powder And What Will It Do For Fried Rice?

Pork fried rice on a bowl from overhead
Pork fried rice on a bowl from overhead - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Five-spice powder was originally thought to fuse the primary flavors found in Chinese cooking in the interest of a balanced mind and body. These flavors -- which include salty, bitter, acidic, sweet, and sour -- are integrated by the cloves, fennel, cinnamon, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns found in the spice blend. Five-spice powder isn't always limited to these spices, however. Depending on who is making it, it can also contain nutmeg, ginger, or galangal.

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Expect each of the seasonings to join forces for fried rice that is simultaneously pungent and earthy (cloves), spicy-sweet (cinnamon), with notes of mild sweet licorice (fennel), as well as bitter licorice (star anise), all brought together by an almost indescribable and distinct profile that includes hints of hot pepper, ginger, and citrus (Szechuan peppercorns). That being said, it's hard to imagine the remarkable impact that five-spice powder can have on fried rice without actually trying it first. But rest assured, you're in for a very special treat!

What Foods Is 5-Spice Powder Commonly Used In?

pork belly with cucumber and carrot batons on a plate
pork belly with cucumber and carrot batons on a plate - bonchan/Shutterstock

As with any meat that blossoms under a blanket of cinnamon, nutmeg, peppers, bay leaves, cumin, turmeric, and similar combos, five-spice powder makes a fantastic rub for meat like pork and foul (goose, duck, and chicken included). And it's especially tasty on fattier cuts like pork belly and chicken wings. But that isn't all it's good for. The warm spice blend will also turn up just about any stir-fry -- which says a lot about the effect it will have when you try it in your fried rice. It'll add a wallop of flavor to tofu or noodles, and it's also great to include in sauces, braises, marinades, and, believe it or not, desserts: Cakes, cookies, and muffins are all great candidates for five-spice powder.

Since the intense and diverse flavors in the spice blend can be used on such a wide range of foods, it's definitely worth picking some up. Of course, you can always make your own spice mix at home, and many people do. But it can't hurt to get a feel for what to strive for with an authentic jar of five-spice powder first.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.