Natco Star Anise
Star anise, as its name suggests, is indeed star-shaped, consisting of the small, distinctively-shaped, brownish-red coloured, dried fruits of the Illicium verum tree, thought to be indigenous to China, where it is largely cultivated.
Its flavour has both aniseed and liquorice notes, due to the fact that it contains anethole. Star anise is a key spice in Chinese cuisine, adding its distinctive warm, sweet taste to ‘red-cooked dishes’ such as red-cooked pork hock. Red cooked dishes are dishes using an aromatic braising liquid, made from soy sauce, stock, water, rice wine, sugar, mellowed and flavoured by aromatics including star anise, cassia, fennel seeds and dried orange peel.
Star anise is traditionally sold whole, although in its ground form it is one of the spices in China’s Five Spice Powder. Use star anise in Chinese braised dishes, curries, biryanis or, as the Scandinavians do, to aromatise aquavit!