Star Anise - illicium verum
Star anise, as its name implies is star-shaped and tastes like anise. It is a favourite of Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. Star anise is an ingredient in Chinese Five Spice Powder and is used to flavour liqueurs such as anisette as well as chewing gum and candy. It is also used in soap and perfume.
It is similar in flavour to anise since it contains the same essential oil, anethole. Star anise has a stronger taste than anise seed or powder. It is more pungently licorice-like and has a distinctive sweet note.
How to Use:
It can be used whole or ground in oriental dishes made with pork, duck and chicken. A nice addition to stir fries. Use in fish and shellfish dishes and pumpkin. For a spicy sweet flavour you may place a star in the cavity of a chicken or duck before roasting. Also good in pork, chicken and duck stews.
Star anise is the fruit of a small evergreen tree of the magnolia family that is native to China. The tree takes about six years before it will bear fruit. It will then continue to produce for up to one hundred years. The yellow flowers of the tree produce a brown fruit which ripens and then opens into a star shape. Each point of the star contains a tiny seed. Both the pod and seed are used in the spice.