Star anise is not really an herb at all but rather a spice! It is traditionally used in Asian dishes but can be added to so many other recipes as a subtly sweet addition of flavor!
What is Star Anise?
This spice is the dried, hard, brown fruit (picked before it can ripen) from a minor evergreen tree. The shape gives it the obvious name, although the number of points on the star anise spice can vary from six to ten and each “point” is actually a seed pod.
How is Star Anise used in cooking?
Traditionally, star anise is an integral part of the Chinese spice mixture, Five Spice. This popular again mixture also contains cloves, fennel, Szechuan peppercorns, and cinnamon. Star anise offers an aroma and flavor that closely resembles that of licorice. A wide variety of Asian recipes will include five-spice or star anise in one aspect or another, similar to the example below.
Chinese Poached Chicken Breasts with Star Anise
- 3 1/2 c. canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 2 carrots
- 6 scallions including green tops
- 6 slice (1/2-inch) peeled
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1/4 c. soy sauce
- 5 whole star anise
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 c. dry sherry
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- In a large saucepan, combine broth, carrots, the 5 scallions, the smashed ginger, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Add the sherry and chicken and bring back to a simmer over moderately low heat, covered. Turn the chicken and simmer, covered, until the chicken is just done, about 5 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, carrots, and star anise to large shallow bowls. Strain the broth and add the minced ginger and 2 tablespoons of chopped scallion. Ladle the broth over the chicken and top with the remaining chopped scallion.
While star anise is very popular in Chinese five-spice and a wide variety of Asian dishes, it is also widely used around the world. For example, the united states especially seem to enjoy using this spice in various baked goods such as cookies and also enjoy adding it to jam!
It is important to note that Star Anise cannot be eaten whole. Therefore, it is imperative that the spice is extracted before consuming any broth, beverage, or marinade that may be made with Star Anise.
Are there nutritional or health benefits from Star Anise?
Yes! In fact, there are many!
One benefit that Star Anise offers is that it is good for your skin! Star Anise can be used to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve smoothness, and reduce sagging by helping to tighten the skin. These benefits come from the spice’s tannins and anethole which contribute to these benefits. There are several different Star Anise facial products that can be used such as moisturizers, toners, and facial masks!
Aside from introducing this amazing spice to your skin, it is also vastly beneficial when consumed!
It is important to note that there is a difference between Star Anise and Japanese Star Anise. Japanese Star Anise is said to be very toxic and should not be consumed!
- Drinking a glass of water that has been infused with Star Anise before bedtime is said to increase one’s sex drive!
- The oil from this spice is believed to help treat cold and flu symptoms. This is because they contain thymol, terpineol, and anethole!
- This popular spice also contains many antioxidants as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which are said to help combat diabetes and early aging.
- Drinking Star Anise tea after eating a large meal is said to help the digestive process and even ease nausea.