Star anise tastes similar to a spice of a similar name: anise. Though unrelated, they both have a flavor reminiscent of licorice and fennel, accompanied by a sweet, pungent smell. The fruits are harvested from the Illicium verum evergreen tree just before ripening, when the essential oil content is highest, then are preserved by drying.
Star anise is widely used in Indian and Chinese cuisine. It’s a key player in garam marsala and Chinese five-spice, and also used in liquor production. In cooking, you normally simmer the pods to infuse their flavor and then remove them before eating.
If you’ve never cooked with this unique spice, try it out in this recipe for Braised Pollock. Paired with fennel and tomato, this trifecta of flavor is irresistible!
– Alivia Duran