Badian Anise, Chinese Anise
FR: Anis de la Chine, Anis etoile, Badiane
IT: Anice stellato
BOT: Illicium verum
ILL: Plate 19, No. 5
Star anise is the star-shaped fruit of a small evergreen tree belonging to the magnolia family and native to China. The fruits are collected and dried before they are ripe. They have a strong flavour, rather similar to anise but slightly more bitter and pungent. The same essential oil, anethole, is present.
Star anise is grown in southern China and Indo-China and is said to have been first brought to Europe by an English sailor at the end of the sixteenth century.
It is used in the East as a spice. The oil, extracted by steam distillation, is much used in anise-flavoured drinks and commercial preparations instead of European aniseed.
Star anise can be bought in any good spice shop and must be on the shelf if one is interested in Chinese cooking, in which it is used particularly in pork and duck recipes, e.g. Chiang Fou (fragrant pork), Hsiang Su Ya (succulent duck), ragout de porc a la chinoise, etc. (See also Anise, Chinese Five Spices.)