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What is Star Anise Spice?

star anise spice


Star anise is a culinary spice from the star-shaped nut of a 65-ft tall evergreen tree with licorice flavoring popular in Asian cooking.

What does star anise taste like?

The flavor of star anise is warm, earthy, and subtly sweet with the pungent aroma of licorice and smoke when warmed is perfumed with aniseed.

Where does star anise come from?

Originating in Southwest China star anise is the fruit of the illicium verum plant. The dried seed pod is central to Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine.

Star Anise Uses

Star anise is potent and usually, one star is enough to infuse into sweet or savory recipes.

The spice can enhance the flavor of meat and vegetables, or use whole stars infused into soup, stock, tea, cocktails, sauces, poaching, stews, and braises.

**Keep in mind that Star Anise cannot be eaten whole so be sure to remove it before serving your dish.**

Ground star anise can be ground fresh or bought ground and is best added to baked recipes.

Star Anise Substitutes 

  • Anise Seed: similar licorice flavoring although anise is more potent and spicier.
  • Five Spice: star anise is a component of Chinese five-spice so therefore a suitable substitute.
  • Cloves: sweet and warming like star anise although without the anise flavoring.
  • Fennel Seed: a sweet licorice flavor which can be an alternative spice for star anise.

Star Anise Compliments and Pairings 

The anise flavoring can enrich dishes in a slow simmer or be a star ingredient when paired with ingredients such as onion, tomato, chocolate, coffee, carrot, mint, pineapple, melon, orange, lemon, lime, apple, pear, plum, pork, lamb, beef, poultry, fennel, cinnamon, and basil. 

Star Anise Expiration and Storage

  • Whole: store in an airtight container away from direct light or moisture, use within one year.
  • Ground: store in an airtight container away from direct light or moisture, use within six months.

Fun Facts About Star Anise

  • In folklore it is believed that placing star anise under a pillow will ensure pleasant dreams of someone far away.
  • Japanese star anise or illicium anisatum is similar in appearance but poisonous and inedible, the spice is instead burned as incense.

Popular Star Anise Recipes

  • Braised star anise beef
  • Chinese poached chicken
  • Duck breast with spiced star anise sauce
  • Carrot and star anise soup
  • Chocolate and star anise tart
  • Orange and star anise cake
  • Spiced poached pears
  • Biryani
  • Vietnamese pho

Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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