I was browsing among various recipes for green beans and noticed a call for Chinese five spice in one of them and wondered if I had the ingredients to make my own. Yes! – or at least close enough for my purposes. I looked over several recipes and they all had the same ingredients with a few variations: Star anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns. Some used Szechuan peppercorns and others called for the more familiar black peppercorns, one recipe used cassia bark in lieu of the cinnamon, there were differences in the ratios so I just eyeballed mine as I loaded them into my little spice grinder. I ended up with about a quarter cup of some great smelling stuff.Those are the Szechuan peppercorns between the cinnamon sticks. They have an interesting effect in the mouth, some heat and a numbing sensation on the lips. Another name for them is prickly ash seed.
After all of that, I used about a teaspoon of the spice powder in the soy sauce marinade of the chicken for the green bean dish pictured above. That was a simple enough recipe, the most prep went into the sauce: 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup chicken stock, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of rice vinegar with a little corn starch to thicken it in the pan. I steamed the beans for five minutes while the chicken was cooking then added them to the pan with the chicken and then poured in the sauce and cooked until it thickened, a few more minutes.