While no one knows the exact origin of the powder, it really adds a magnificent flavor to fatty meats and stews. It also makes for a kick-ass rub. It's really versatile and can be used not only in cooking but also adds a unique flavor to baked goods.
Sichuan Peppercorns are a really neat ingredient. They cause a mild tingling numbing sensation in your mouth. They were banned from being imported from the U.S. from 1968-2005, because they were believed to be capable of carrying a citrus canker, harmful to the fruit of citrus tress & foliage. Don't worry through, there was never any concern of harm through human consumption.
Chinese Five Spice Powder
2 tbsp Ground Saigon Cinnamon
2 tbsp Star Anise
2 tbsp Sichuan Peppercorns
2 tbsp Fennel
Cast Iron Skillet
Put all the spices in a cast iron skillet except for the cinnamon and lightly toast for 2-3 minutes over low to medium low heat. The spices are ready when they become really fragrant. Remove from the heat and place in a spice grinder. Grind the spices until you achieve a fine texture.
Place the spice powder into an air tight container. The powder is best when used within the first 6 months.