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The Spice Challenge - Spice of the Month (December 2017): Anise

Discussion in 'Competitions & Challenges, Questions & Quizzes' started by morning glory, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member Recipe Challenge Judge

    Stop Press. Following a member's query the challenge is now extended to include other spices with anise flavour: Fennel, Aniseed and Liquorice.

    Each month we showcase a different spice. I'll be writing up some information about the spice and its over to you to come up with your tips, tricks or recipes using the spice. There is a prize for the most interesting idea or recipe (to be posted anywhere in the world, customs permitting). Just add your ideas to this thread or if you have a recipe, then post it as a new thread and tag it ’star anise' and 'spice challenge'. So, as you already realised, this month, the featured spice is star anise! Deadline for entries midday 3rd Jan. 2018 (GMT).


    Star Anise - the Info:


    Native to China and Vietnam, star anise is today grown almost exclusively in southern China, Indo-China, and Japan. Star anise, Illicium verum, is sometimes called Chinese star anise. A small to medium evergreen tree of the magnolia family, reaching up to 8m (26ft). The leaves are lanceolate and the axillary flowers are yellow. The star shaped seed pods are harvested before they ripen, then sun dried.

    Aroma and flavour
    Star anise has a notable aniseed flavour and aroma but is rather stronger in taste with smokey undertones and sweet liquorice notes.

    Culinary use
    Star anise must be one of the mot attractive spices and its star shaped structure can be used to visual effect (think poached pears with a star anise in the cored out centres). It is a spice commonly found in Asian dishes, such as soups and stews and curry. Its one of the five spices used in Chinese five spice powder.

    Star anise a surprisingly versatile spice which pairs well with fish, meat and vegetables. It can also be used in desserts, where its warm, spicy punch pairs magically with certain fruits. Star anise with pear or plums are two examples. Or how about a Christmas punch or cocktail?

    So its over to you. How do you use star anise? Tell us your ideas, tips and recipes for using this spice. Deadline for entries is midday 3rd January 2018 (GMT).

    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
    Francesca, ElizabethB and Herbie like this.
  2. Herbie

    Herbie Well-Known Member

    Very Christmassy.
    I've already made (still steeping) star anise gin for Christmas. It is sitting in the cold and dark of my parents garage (along with apple gin and clove gin.) They are only small bottles (one litre bottle split between the flavours). I'll type 'recipe' and the in progress photos tomorrow when I visit my parents. Taste test will be Christmas day I think.

    My husband loves the anise flavour so I often add it to rice.
    ElizabethB, Francesca, Elawin and 2 others like this.
  3. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member Recipe Challenge Judge

    Great idea to add it to gin. I've been researching and seen recipes adding it to vodka, so I may try that. I love the aniseed flavour too.
    ElizabethB and Francesca like this.
  4. Francesca

    Francesca Über Member

    Sometimes Anise is added to Bizcocho, a firm sponge cake that is very popular at traditional Spanish bars and bakeries ..

    It is also a Spanish classic traditional liquor here called: Anise Castellana which is somewhat similar to Anisette or Sambuca and could be semi sweet or dry ..
    ElizabethB likes this.
  5. Sandra

    Sandra Active Member

    Rimini (Italy)
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  6. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member Recipe Challenge Judge

    Well strictly speaking the spice in the challenge is star anise - but we have not had any many (any?) entries so far. I can extend it to include aniseed, fennel seeds and liquorice which all share a similar taste profile (and a common compound, anethol). The wonderful book 'The Flavour Thesaurus' by Niki Segnit puts them all in one section and suggests pairings under the general heading 'Anise'.

    I'll amend the intro accordingly! So go ahead if you have a recipe using fennel seeds. :D
    Francesca, ElizabethB and Sandra like this.
  7. Sandra

    Sandra Active Member

    Rimini (Italy)
    the seeds of anise and fennel seeds (above all) are used a lot in Italian cuisine! But I didn't want to change the rules of the challenge :giggle:
  8. epicuric

    epicuric Senior Member Staff Member

    Shropshire, UK
    May I present Winter spiced red cabbage with shallots?


    I found this James Martin recipe quite recently and have cooked it twice so far. It is full of Christmas flavours (including star anise!) and goes really well with game birds and poultry. I'm afraid there aren't any pictures - what was left of the last batch has gone in the freezer and not reappear until Christmas day to go with the goose.
    Sandra, Francesca, ElizabethB and 3 others like this.
  9. SatNavSaysStraightOn

    SatNavSaysStraightOn Guru Staff Member

    NSW, Australia
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  10. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member Recipe Challenge Judge

    Guys - we only have one entry so far! The challenge is extended to include fennel seeds, aniseed and liquorice...
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
    Francesca likes this.
  11. SatNavSaysStraightOn

    SatNavSaysStraightOn Guru Staff Member

    NSW, Australia
    So which one of us are you not counting this time please? :whistling:
    Francesca likes this.
  12. SatNavSaysStraightOn

    SatNavSaysStraightOn Guru Staff Member

    NSW, Australia
    PS, I'm repeating this in the next few days, or for Christmas day with shine rough puff pastry (homemade).. Hopefully I'll get a better photo, though I suspect I'll cut back the amount of caramel used in it. Last time we lost a lot through the bottom of the tin I used but despite that it was still very sweet. I know it is meant to be, but I'll try adapting the recipe slightly to our tastes. I'm also going to try to get more of the star anise flavour out, perhaps by soaking some star anise in the water I make the caramel from first, though the recipe didn't make caramel that way (using water that is).
    Francesca and morning glory like this.
  13. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member Recipe Challenge Judge

    Ooops - 2 entries! :oops: Its 'cos I scanned through and only saw your photo.
  14. Elawin

    Elawin Über Member

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  15. morning glory

    morning glory Obsessive cook Staff Member Recipe Challenge Judge

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