Star anise has a very strong, distinct flavor with a liquorice-like aroma that is sweet and spicy.Star anise has the same name as traditional anise, but they are completely different plants. Star anise is a fruit of a small Oriental tree native to China and Vietnam. Its boat-shaped seed pods give the fruit a star shape. Like anise, star anise has a strong liquorice flavour, but star anise is bitter. Star anise is a major component of Chinese five-spice blends.
Star Anise should be used in small quantities. Although the flavor of star anise is generally thought of as sweet, it is commonly used in savory dishes; it pairs well with citrus, onions, poultry, beef, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Star anise is also used to flavour alcoholic drinks such as pastis. The whole spice is an attractive eight-pointed star, but star anise is more often found ground to a powder.
Use ground star anise in baking or with duckling, or put the whole spice in a slow-cooking casserole.