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Information for Star Anise
Star anise, also known as Chinese star anise, and star aniseed is a spice that is native to Vietnam and China and later introduced to Europe in the 17th Century. Botanically called illicium verum, it comes from the family Magnoliaceae and is the fruit of a small evergreen tree.
It takes its name from the unusual star shaped pericarp which houses pea sized seeds and its flavor which is very close to anise. There is often an average of eight boat shaped pericarp for every fruit. Picked and dried before the fruit ripens, star anise is rust colored. In powder form it is red-brown in color. Both the whole and ground forms of star anise have a pungent licorice aroma accompanied by a strong, bitter aniseed taste.
Used widely in Eastern cooking, star anise is a component of Chinese five spice powder and is employed in many savory Asian dishes. Star anise has also become popular in Western cooking as a more cost effective substitute for anise in liquor production and baking.
This spice mixes well with pork, duck, beef, shrimp, eggs, soy sauce, leeks, pumpkin, pears and sweet confections. Due to the strong taste of star anise, it should be used moderately when cooking.
Photo Credit: Arria Belli