Description: Dry fruits of the star anise tree (Illicium verum); indigenous to the southeastern a part of China and to Vietnam.
Taste profile: Candy, heat, earthy
Associated cuisines: Chinese language, South Asian, Indonesian
Storage: Retailer in a darkish, cool place in an hermetic container. Complete star anise will final about one 12 months, whereas floor star anise lasts about six months earlier than shedding its taste.
Every time Barkha Cardoz is making rice, she will be able to at all times rely on a heat, earthy aroma to envelop her when she opens the lid. Cardoz, the founding father of Cardoz Legacy, a culinary group honoring her late husband, movie star chef Floyd, seems to be ahead to that feeling each time and attributes it to star anise.
The heady, licorice-like spice might be discovered in lots of Asian and South Asian cuisines, in all the pieces from garam masala to Sichuan lamb noodle soup. The spice’s sturdy and notable aroma is what makes it so attractive as an ingredient in cooking, and it may be used each complete and floor.
To seek out out extra about star anise, together with how to buy it and the way it’s used, we spoke to Cardoz for some steering.
What’s Star Anise?
Star anise is a dry fruit that comes from the Illicium verum plant, an evergreen shrub or small tree native to southern Asia. China is the primary producer of the spice, nevertheless it’s additionally cultivated in Japan, India, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The fruit is a reddish brown shade that resembles wooden and, as famous by its identify, is star-shaped, often with eight factors. Every of those factors comprise a seed. It’s harvested earlier than it reaches ripeness and dried earlier than being bought.
Phở Saigon (Southern Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
Star anise is just distantly associated to the anise seed. The previous is far stronger, with a bitter, herbaceous style and barely perceptible sweetness, whereas the latter has a pure, extra identifiable sweetness to it. Each spices are recognized for his or her licorice taste. “It is totally different from cinnamon nevertheless it’s in that very same taste profile of sweetness,” says Cardoz. Star anise can also be an ingredient that’s historically present in Chinese language five-spice powder, together with cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds.
Learn how to Purchase and Retailer Star Anise
When looking for star anise, Cardoz suggests in search of pods which can be complete, with the star form intact as a substitute of damaged into items, which is extra indicative of high quality than taste. “You need it to be complete as a result of that reveals you it has been cared for, it isn’t leftover items that they put it in a bag and are promoting it to you,” says Cardoz. When saved in a cool, dry, darkish place, complete star anise will final about one 12 months, whereas floor star anise will final about six months earlier than shedding its taste.
Most spice and worldwide markets carry star anise, often in each complete and floor type. Floor star anise might be discovered within the spice aisle of most grocery shops. Provided that star anise has a really highly effective taste, it may be a lot simpler to manage it by shopping for the entire pods and grinding them your self.
Learn how to Prepare dinner With Star Anise
In most Asian and South Asian cuisines, star anise is used to taste greens, meats, and soups like Vietnamese Phở Saigon. The spice additionally has baking functions, and might be discovered as an ingredient in pumpkin spice blends. It’s usually utilized in mulled wines.
For Cardoz, star anise may be very a lot part of her traditional cooking. “I do not use it floor as a lot as I exploit the entire pods,” she says. “I am going to usually use it if I am making a pilau, a biryani, or a wealthy meat curry. I discover the candy, earthy, musky flavors lend itself extra to the heavy sauces, gravies, and curries.”
Condiments & Sauces
Homemade Chili Crisp
She notes that in Indian cooking, floor star anise is never used by itself however as a substitute integrated into totally different garam or home masalas, which frequently embrace different spices like cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns. “I am going to use it complete, primarily to taste rice and meats, after which pull it out.” She additionally mentions it may be steeped as a tea with cinnamon, which is particularly useful while you’re feeling underneath the climate.
“For me, star anise is a kind of royal complete spices,” says Cardoz. “It isn’t one thing you employ in on a regular basis cooking; it is elevated and particular.”