It’s no surprise that most of the world’s cuisines are heavily spiced, if not outright seasoned. It also makes perfect sense that spices, which often come from tropical regions, would be used in Asian cuisine. Chinese food has a long history of incorporating herbs and spices into its dishes. In fact, there are many more herbs and spices used in Chinese cooking than just star anise.
The following are some of the ones you should look for when you’re cooking or ordering Chinese food:
Five Spice Powder
Cinnamon Sticks or Ground Cinnamon
For most people, star anise is one of those mysterious spices in the back of the pantry and if you are a fan of Asian food, it might find its way into your dishes from time to time. But what if I told you that this spice does more than flavor your food? It is also used as an herbal remedy for digestion issues and menstrual difficulties.
In addition to its medicinal benefits, it can enhance the flavor of your dishes by adding a bit of licorice sweetness. While you may think that it is similar to anise seed, which has a similar name but different spelling and pronunciation, there are several differences between the two. Anise seed comes from a different plant, which contains less chinese star anise oil and is not poisonous.
Star anise not only tastes great but also packs quite a punch when it comes to antioxidants. This spice has been used for centuries in Asia both as a flavoring and as medicine.
With Chinese cooking, star anise is traditionally used in poached dishes, meat marinades, spice rubs and for pickling vegetables. It is also commonly found in five-spice powder (a mix of equal parts ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns) to add a licorice flavor without the sweetness.
Star anise pairs well with meats such as beef, pork and duck as well as other spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger. It can be used whole or ground in various recipes. When using whole pods, remove before serving because they are not edible.
If you’ve seen a Chinese soup or dumpling that has a reddish-brown, star-shaped ingredient floating in it, chances are it’s star anise. One of the most popular spices in the East, this aromatic spice is not only great for flavoring, but also adding extra fragrance to your dish.
The difference between Star Anise and Aniseed
Aniseed is commonly mistaken with Star Anise, since they both contain a similar licorice flavor. However, they are completely different in terms of their origins and flavors. While Star Anise comes from China, Japan, and Vietnam, Aniseed comes from the Mediterranean region.
Star Anise is not only stronger than Aniseed when it comes to its licorice flavor, but also sweeter and less bitter. The high concentration of shikimic acid found in Star Anise helps in removing free radicals from the body as well as slowing down premature aging. It also contains vitamin A and C which are useful for boosting immunity. Its antibacterial properties can help fight against influenza viruses including H1N1 and H5N1.
Star Anise is an exotic spice that can add a special flavor to your cooking. For people who are not so familiar with it, it is a bit confusing because its name is similar to the anise we often use. Both have similarities in flavor, but star anise has a stronger taste and scent.
If you love Chinese cuisine, then you might be already familiar with this spice. It is one of the ingredients used in Chinese five-spice powder and forms part of the Chinese dishes ranging from soups and marinades to teas. It can also be used as a substitute for anise in some recipes. In fact, if you are making a recipe using licorice, you can replace it with star anise to give the dish a more pungent taste.
The best way to describe star anise is to relate its flavor to that of fennel and anise seed. It has the same black licorice flavor we are accustomed to but has a stronger aroma and taste. The difference between this spice and the other two is that it is much stronger than both fennel seeds and anise seeds which have almost equal flavors.
Star Anise Facts
To better understand star anise, here are some facts about this
We’ve all been there, concocting a new recipe, only to search for a mysterious ingredient and find that the only place selling it is across town. But what if we told you that one of those hard-to-find ingredients has been sitting in your kitchen cabinet all along?
Star anise is one of the most exotic spices in the world. It has a strong, sweet licorice flavor, and it’s an ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder. What sets star anise apart from other aromatic herbs is its versatility: it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. In fact, star anise is used to flavor everything from soups, sauces, and marinades to desserts and teas.
There are seven points on a star anise pod (which is why it’s called “star” anise), each containing a single seed. The pods are picked before they ripen and dried until they turn dark brown or black. Star anise has long been prized as a remedy for indigestion, so much so that people sometimes call it “aniseed.” Check out the video below to find out how you can harness the power of star anise in your cooking:
It’s a common misconception that Chinese cooking is bland or unexciting in its use of spices. While true that many dishes are light and delicate, there is also a myriad of other dishes that are incredibly aromatic, spicy, and flavorful.
If you’re looking to bring more heat to your kitchen and some new tastes to your palate, check out the following herbs used in traditional Chinese cooking!