Star anise, how to combine it and a recipe to try

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Robert Maurer
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L'star anise it derives its flavor from the aromatic compound anethole, which anise shares, to which the aroma of licorice is added. It is very popular during flu times because it contains shikimic acid, a substance used to make antiviral drugs.


Star anise is a spice originally from China, where it is considered a good luck charm. Since the end of the Middle Ages it has been exported, via the tea route, from China to Russia, and from there to Europe. This is why it has long been called Siberian cardamom.


The Latin name Illicium means "enchantment" in reference to the sweet smell and its graceful shape.


To highlight the eucalyptus notes of star anise pair it with cardamom, bay leaf or ginger. To enhance its sweet flavor, combine it with nutmeg or cinnamon. To highlight its fresh sourness, mix it with dill or peppercorns.


Star anise, the winning combinations

  • Vegetables. Place one whole on oven-grilled leeks, cabbage or fennel; sprinkle the powder on pumpkin root vegetables such as onions, carrots, potatoes and beets.

  • Rice. Add a whole star anise when you cook Basmati or Thai rice in a pan.

  • Beef or pork. Use whole spice to add freshness to a beef or pork tail stew.




How to enhance the aroma of star anise

Use oil and rice vinegar or fermented soy to dissolve the anethole. 

Dry star anise toasts at 130-180 ° C to form aromatic compounds with a nutty scent.

Cooking star anise with garlic creates a full-bodied aroma.

Slow cooking with whole fruits brings out the aromas from the woody shell.



A recipe with star anise to try


Steamed salmon with anise and chilli

Ingredients for 4 people: 4 skinless salmon fillets, ground white pepper, chopped star anise, 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, finely chopped fresh ginger, 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and cut into strips, light soy, dark soy sauce, 3 finely chopped spring onions, 1 tablespoon of seed oil, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of chili oil

Massage the fillets with white pepper. Arrange them on a baking dish, with a piece of star anise below and one above. Pour the wine or sherry, sprinkle the ginger over the fish and add the chilli. Fill the bottom of a steamer or deep saucepan with 2 cm of water, put a basket in it and bring to a boil. Place the fish dish in the pot, cover it with airtight aluminum foil and steam over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes. If necessary, add more water.
When the salmon is cooked, take the pan out of the pot and remove the pieces of star anise. Pour the soy sauces and spring onions over the fish. Heat a wok, add the three oils, stir, and when they are very hot remove from the heat and pour over the fish. Serve with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables.





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