It’s a mystery why star anise is so rarely used in European cuisine. It might occasionally flavour poached fruit or jams, but it’s in its native Vietnam where the full flavours of star anise are harnessed in delicious phở.
The liquorice, anise notes mean that star anise is often associated with sweet cakes or compotes. It really comes into its own when balancing big flavours of slow-braised meats. Try poaching a whole chicken with star anise, coriander stalks and fresh ginger, and you will forever be a convert.
Star anise is one of the ingredients in Chinese Five Spice, but it has long been traded along spice routes, and is also used to flavour masala chai and pilaf rice. Though star anise is most often steeped in hot liquid to release its bold flavours, it can also be blitzed in a spice grinder. A pinch can bring real sophistication to a fruit crumble or plum tart.
Star anise is native to Vietnam, which is where we have sourced ours from. Though it is now cultivated worldwide, the tropical climate is perfect for growing quality star anise seedpods, which are harvested over the late-summer months, and then sun-dried until hard.
Star anise should be stored in a dark, airtight container, to prevent it from sun-bleaching and losing its potency. Ideally, it should be somewhere static, so that the fronds don’t get bashed and damaged.
Star anise has been long used as a traditional remedy to treat inflammation, nervousness, insomnia and pain. Star anise has been shown to possess anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. To read more, click HERE.
ALSO KNOWN AS: badiam, staranise