What is Star Anise
Star Anise (Illicium verumis) is brown in colour and shaped like an eight pointed star. Hence, that’s probably how it obtained its name. There is a pea size seed in each of the eight segments which are responsible for its aniseed flavour.
It’s essentially a fruit of a small evergreen treee which is native to southwest China and northeast Vietnam. It’s picked just before ripening and dried before use.
It has a strong aniseed flavour, with a liquorice-like aroma. It’s also quite similar to fennel seed but comes from a completely different plant.
Preparation & Storage
Star Anise should be kept in an air-tight container and store it in a cool dark place and it should last for up to a year. However, it’s best to discard it when you think it’s starting to loose it’s intense flavour.
Cooking with Star Anise
Star Anise plays an important role in Chinese and Vietnamese slow cooked dishes such as Vietnamese beef stew, where it is generally added as a whole (not broken into pieces). It also integral to the traditonal Vietnamese pho.
Not forgetting, it is one of the spices used to make Chinese five-spice powder. Apart from Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine it is frequently used to sweeten soups and meat stews in other types of Asian cuisines. It is generally not eaten but discarded before the dish is served.
Star Anise can be subsituted for fennel seed or equal amounts of Chinese five spice powder.
Star anise should not be confused with Japanese Star anise (Illicium anisatum) which is highly toxic and inedible.
Different forms of Star anise
Receipes with Star Anise