Star Anise: How To Use This Unusual Spice

Star anise is a popular ingredient used in various cuisines around the world. It is a spice that is made from the fruit of the Chinese evergreen tree, Illicium verum. The fruit is star-shaped, hence the name star anise. It has a sweet and liquorice-like flavour and is often used to add a distinct flavour and aroma to many dishes.

Star anise is native to China and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is believed to have medicinal properties, such as relieving coughs and aiding digestion. In recent years, star anise has gained popularity in Western cuisine, and it is now used in a variety of dishes, including meat, poultry, and fish dishes, as well as desserts.

One of the most common uses of star anise is in soups and broths. It is an essential ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder used to season meat, poultry, and fish dishes. It is also used in pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup that has become increasingly popular in the Western world. The anise flavour of the star anise complements the rich broth and gives the soup a unique taste.

Star anise is also a popular ingredient in baked goods and desserts. It is often used in gingerbread and other spiced cakes and cookies, as well as in fruit compotes and jams. It pairs well with apples, pears, and other sweet fruits.

In addition to its culinary uses, star anise is also used in producing several alcoholic beverages. It is a key ingredient in absinthe, a highly alcoholic and potent drink that originated in Switzerland in the late 18th century. Star anise is also used to flavour pastis, a traditional French aperitif. It’s also used in some non-culinary applications. It is often used in soaps and perfumes for its pleasant aroma, and it is also used in some insecticides and repellents.

Star anise is a versatile spice that adds a unique flavour and aroma to a wide range of dishes. Its sweet and liquorice flavour pairs well with many ingredients, making it a popular choice in both sweet and savoury dishes. Whether you are a professional chef or a home cook, star anise is a spice that is worth exploring.