In a nutshell: Our Star Anise comes from its homeland China and has a wonderful warm liquorice flavour, use sparingly in soup, stocks and with braised beef and poached pears.
Native to China and and cultivated throughout Southeast Asia for thousands of years, this instantly recognisable spice is known the world over. Star Anise fruits grow on an evergreen tree in the schisandra family with pretty yellow or pink flowers that ripen into the distinctive star-shaped fruits, each with a seedpod. These fruits are harvested before ripening and then sun-dried until they become hardened. More delicate than fennel, more fragrant than aniseed, Star Anise has a range of volatile oils uniquely its own. Containing many of the same volatile oils as aniseed, the liquorice flavour of Star Anise has a much warmer intensity than both aniseed and fennel. Use sparingly and it will impart some magic flavour into your cooking.
Indispensable in Asian cuisine, especially in Indonesia, China and Malaysia, Star Anise is ideal for seasoning pork, duck, beef and many desserts. In Chinese and Vietnamese cookery, Star Anise is used to flavour pho and braised meats. Star Anise is also a key component in Chinese five-spice powder along with cloves, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon and fennel seeds. An exquisite accompaniment for beef, pork and duck. Mix with some fennel seeds and mandarin peel for a perfect seasoning for ribs or pork roast. Use whole in long simmered dishes or grind for quick spice rub recipes. Add also to Indian Biryanis and masala chai or mulled wine. we like to add to our chicken soups, roast duck and goose, poached pears, roasted root vegetables and braised brisket.
About Épices de Cru
Épices de Cru began in 1982 as a catering partnership between Philippe and Ethné de Vienne. Their mission was a kind of “cooking pot anthropology:” learning the secrets of family cooking around the world and applying these techniques to the needs of hungry Montrealers. The secret, they learned, was spices. Over the last two decades, Philippe and Ethné have searched for the world’s best spices, accompanied by their children, Marika and Arik. The de Viennes believe in direct sourcing spices: visiting growing regions, spending time with growers, and developing personal relationships that last decades. In 2004, they officially opened their first spice shop in Montreal’s fantastic Jean Talon market– it’s since become a mecca for foodies from all over the world. I first visited in 2008 and have been buying and using their spices on a regular basis ever since that first exciting visit. They steadfastly maintain that they do nothing original, only facilitating the exchange of culinary common sense from one place to another. But, what they do is simply quite brilliant - by providing us with the finest quality ingredients, and their superb spice mixes, we can all experiment with unusual spices and recreate delicious recipes from around the world.