This beautiful five-pointed spice is native to China and Southeast Asia. It is one of the very few spices used in Chinese cooking, and it's the primary flavoring in Chinese five spice. It is very different from traditional anise in appearance; the smell and taste are more familiar, warm and licorice-like, but still distinctive. It has none of the astringency of licorice, however, instead carrying a very woodsy flavor.
Star anise compliments duck, chicken and pork especially well, and it is often used in stews, including the aromatic Vietnamese pho.
Star anise may be used whole to infuse a cream, custard or liquid with its flavor, or toasted and crushed into a very fine powder. In this form, it is perfect for adding to desserts like custards, ice cream, cakes and pies. Integral to cooking year round, spices are supremely important to have in your pantry. It's impossible to imagine many dishes without their distinctive spices and seasonings. Whether you would like your dish flavored bold or subtle, spices add a taste dimension to meals that is simply irresistible.
Spices enhance the natural properties of foods and are an important part of the complex and magical flavors of ethnic cuisines. Spices are high in flavor yet low in fat, calories and sodium offer the opportunity to explore new tastes.