An unusual, star-shaped spice, star anise adds pungent, licorice-like flavor and aroma to meats, stews, mulled beverages and liqueurs.
The aroma of star anise is strong and licorice-like, more pungent than anise seed, but similar. Its flavor is like anise, but slightly harsher and more bitter. Star anise is very popular in Chinese dishes, though it can be found in other cuisines as well-- like South Vietnamese, Indonesian, Indian, and Malaysian. It's used in Vietnamese noodle soup, and in Thailand you'll find it flavoring an iced black tea. In India it's an important ingredient in curry powder and garam masala blends, while in China it's a crucial ingredient in five spice powder, stocks and stews, with beef and chicken, and in marbled eggs (an hors d'ouevre). The Mandarin Chinese often chew the fruit whole as a breath freshener. Star anise is also used to flavor liqueurs like anisette and pernod.
Try star anise in meat and poultry dishes (especially pork, duck, and chicken), soups and stocks, and with fruits and compotes. Include it with other whole spices for mulling wine and cider.