Star Anise (Illicium verum)
Star Anise has an aromatic flavour not so distant from anise and an aromatic aroma when ground. It is a star shaped fruit that is dried with the seeds inside to produce this spice. Star anise is one of the five spices used in Chinese five spice.
In Eastern countries this spice is used a lot in various soups, stocks and sauces.It is the equivalent of Western countries’ cuisine using aniseed flavours in jams and liqueurs. It is also found in various breads, puddings and pastries, adding its unique warm sweet flavour to these treats.
Antibacterial- This spice has been shown to contain powerful antibacterial properties, according to studies the extract from it can be effective against drug resistant pathogenic bacteria. It is also effective against ear and urinary tract bacterial infections.
Antiviral- Due to the shikimic acid contained this spice has strong antiviral abilities, it is one of the main ingredients of Tamiflu which is a popular medicine for people with influenza.
Vitamins- A, C, Folates, Pyridoxine, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Riboflavin, Thiamin.
Minerals- Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, Zinc
Star Anise is readily available online and can be bought either as the whole spice dried or you can buy it in a ground powdered form. Both of these usually come in a bottle or jar for the spice rack at home. This is a great spice to have at home as it obviously adds fantastic flavours to cooking. It also stores well and should be good for up to one year, in a airtight container.
Star anise spice is delicious to use with poultry and meats. It is especially good with pork dishes and duck dishes. This spice can also be used as a simple rub straight onto the meat. It is also found in other spice rub ingredients which offer delicious flavours and seasonings.
When cooking with this spice, it is often used whole and just simply added to the soup or stew whole and left to cook its flavours in. It is also fantastic to use ground into a powder. This can be done by your self, using a spice grinder or just buy a pre ground powder.
Take a look at the recipe attached. I like to cook this chicken dish as it is tasty and simple to make. It also gives fantastic flavours with the star anise and ginger combined. This dish needs rice so don't forget to start cooking your rice first.
Serves 4 people
10 chicken thighs with the bone in and the skin on
3 large cloves of garlic sliced fine
1 inch peeled fresh ginger, sliced into fine strips
2 spring onions sliced
1 tablespoon of honey
80 ml rice wine
200 ml chicken stock
2 star anise pods
60 ml light soy sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken thighs and pat it into the chicken.
Put a large pan or a wok onto a medium to high heat and add the oil. Once hot add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until the skin goes a lovely golden colour. Turn the chicken until all the meat is browned. Remove from the pan to a plate and leave to one side.
If there is excess oil in the pan, pour out the excess until you have 1 third of a tablespoon and then add the garlic and ginger and stir. Now add the chicken stock and the rice wine and bring to the boil turning down to a gentle simmer. Add the soy sauce, honey and the star anise to the mixture and give it a good stir. Take your chicken and add this to the broth. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
Remove the chicken from the sauce and plate with the rice. Once removed, boil the sauce. When sauce reduced by about a third, spoon over the chicken.
Add the chopped spring onions as a garnish.