Star anise isn’t really anise. It’s a medium-sized fruit from an evergreen tree in the magnolia family. It is milder, and a more mellow aromatic anise flavor than the seed, which is much stronger, and more pungent. It’s popular in a lot of Asian spice blends and stocks, but the rough cut is applicable to dense, big spice blends and other integrated uses, not stocks.
Unless you’re doing a lot of mixing of blends, it’s better to get the whole and grind it yourself, as needed. You can control the consistency of the grind with a spice mill or a mortar/pestle much better.
Star anise contains anethole, the essential oil that gives off that licorice, taste. The flavor is warm, floral, and slightly sweet.
Native to Northeast Vietnam and Southwest China, the spice can be grown in any similar climate.
- Chinese Five-Spice powder;
- Vietnamese Pho;
- Masala chai.
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- Balinese BBQ Rub – American rub with Bali bite!
- Jazz Chef Cranberry Sauce
- Tomato Okra Black-Eyed Pea Stew with Star Anise and Thyme
- Jinan Jerk Pork
Star anise is an ancient spice, widely distributed as part of the global spice trade. It arrived in Europe during the 17th century. There, the oil was extracted by a steam process, and used for candies, syrups, sweet drinks, and to temper the taste of medicines.
90% of the crop today isn’t used culinarily. It’s a key ingredient in the manufacture of Tamiflu.
Consume only the seeds from China/Vietnam, or regions OTHER THAN Japan.
The Japanese star anise is toxic. It can be burned, for incense, but not taken internally.
- Chinese Star Anise
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