Ground Chinese Star Anise Seed (1 oz. bag)
(Whole Star Anise)
Your Price: $1.95
Star anise is the unusual
fruit of a small oriental tree. It is, as the name suggests, star
shaped, radiating between five and ten pointed boat-shaped sections,
about eight on average. These hard sections are seed pods. Tough
skinned and rust coloured, they measure up to 3cm (1-1/4”)
long. The fruit is picked before it can ripen, and dried. The stars
are available whole, or ground to a red-brown powder.
In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise is prescribed as a digestive
aid and to help cure colic in babies. More recently, Shikimic Acid,
extracted from star anise, is one of the chief ingredients in the
antiviral Tamiflu drug used to fight avian influenza.
Bouquet: Powerful and liquorice-like, more pungent and stronger
Flavour: Evocative of a bitter aniseed, of which flavour star anise
is a harsher version. Nervertheless, the use of star anise ensures
an authentic touch in the preparation of certain Chinese dishes.
Hotness Scale: 3
Preparation and Storage
The whole stars can be added directly to the cooking pot; pieces
are variously referred to as segments, points and sections. Otherwise,
grind the whole stars as required. Small amounts are used, as the
spice is powerful. Stored whole in airtight containers, it keeps
for well over a year.
Star anise is used in the East as aniseed is in the West. Apart
from its use in sweetmeats and confectionery, where sweeteners must
be added, it contributes to meat and poultry dishes, combining especially
well with pork and duck. In Chinese red cooking, where the ingredients
are simmered for a lengthy period in dark soy sauce, star anise
is nearly always added to beef and chicken dishes. Chinese stocks
and soups very often contain the spice.. It flavours marbled eggs,
a decorative Chinese hors d’oeuvre or snack. Mandarins with
jaded palates chew the whole dried fruit habitually as a post-prandial
digestant and breath sweetener - an oriental comfit. In the West,
star anise is added in fruit compotes and jams, and in the manufacture
of anise-flavoured liqueurs, the best known being anisette. It is
an ingredient of the mixture known as “Chinese Five Spices”.