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: Cultivation 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).