Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Spice of the Month - Star Anise

Star Anise look very attractive – but, boy, I regretted it the first time I followed a recipe and put several into a dish – the flavour was so strong.  I now just break pieces off them and use them sparingly.  Unlike many spices these little babies will stay ok for up to 5 years.

The bulk of the world's star anise is grown in China.  It comes from a member of the magnolia family.  I was interested to learn that the active ingredient in Tamiflu (the flu fighter) comes from star anise.  The trees produce these fruits after 6 years but then can keep on producing for up to a century!

A basic spice in Chinese dishes.  Is a main ingredient in 5 spice powder.

Star anise are actually quite sweet – sweeter than sugar!

Star anise goes well with duck or pork.

Try poaching rhubarb with a star anise.  Try adding it to your mince mixture in cottage pie.  I have seen a suggestion of adding a little ground star anise into a chocolate mousse – I can't quite imagine what this would be like.

My recipes using star anise – Home Made Chicken Noodle Soup and Sichuan ribs

BIBLIOGRAPHY - with thanks to Auckland Libraries

Cook's Encyclopaedia of Spices by Sallie Morris & Lesley Mackley
Discovering Vegetables, Herbs & Spices by Susanna Lyle
Spice Market by Jane Lawson
Spicery by Ian & Elizabeth Hemphill
Spices & Natural Flavourings by Jennifer Mulherin
Spices by Sophie Grigson
Spices Condiments and Seasonings by Kenneth T Farrell
Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen by Elizabeth David
The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander


  1. I haven't done much cooking with star anise. Now I am tempted to go find some and see what I'm missing out on!


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