Arguably the belle of the spice rack, star anise is probably best known for its leading role in Chinese food. It also gives a lovely hint of Christmas so now’s the perfect time to give it top billing…
A star is born
The dried seedpod of an evergreen shrub, this star-shaped spice has a seed in each point. With its sweet, strong anise flavour and liquorice smell, it’s a mainstay of Chinese cooking and is one of the key spices in Chinese five spice.
You may’ve tried it another way without even knowing as it’s used in alcoholic drinks like ouzo, Sambuca, pastis and absinthe. Makes sense once you know it.
Unsurprisingly, star anise is linked to a number of health benefits. It’s been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years for its antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, and is making its way into Western medicine too.
Both the pod and seed are used in cooking, and you can buy star anise either as a whole spice or ground into a powder. Once it’s ground, it loses flavour fairly quickly so best to buy it whole and grind as you need it. And go easy with it – it’s pretty potent.
Like all spices, star anise needs to be stored somewhere cool, dark and dry to preserve those punchy flavours. Kept like this, it should last a good while although it’s pungency will start to fade after a year or so.
Star anise shines in the marinade for these honey roast ribs. All you need is a bit of patience to guarantee mouth-watering results. The same could be said of these sweet duck legs cooked with plums and star anise.
Fancy a bit of spice on the side? Try this scrummy baby savoy cabbage with pancetta and star anise.
This super spice is also the star of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup that can be prepared in many ways. Here are six lip-smacking recipes pho you to dabble in.
Create some beautiful Chinese dishes like this honey, ginger, and star anise pork stir fry, or how does chicken simmered in soy and star anise sound? If you are a big dumpling fan then check out this star anise pulled chicken recipe.
Give Christmas lunch the star treatment with a bit of spice bling. It brings the flavor and it makes food look super festive, like this marmalade and star anise baked ham. Go for broke and serve with scrummy star anise glazed carrots.
Step away from the shop bought stuff and plump for this cinnamon and star anise infused cranberry sauce. So easy to make and worlds apart in taste from anything readymade.
And let’s not forget the mulled wine. Fruity and filled with spice, this recipe’s a winner.
Treats that twinkle
Thought mustard couldn’t go in pud? Think again with these honeyed apples with a hint of wholegrain mustard and star anise! If you don’t already have the ActiFry app, download it here – you’ll be glad you did 😉
Need a little time to mull over which star anise dish to try first? Make yourself a cup of chai tea infused with (you guessed it) star anise and get browsing. Enjoy the show!