By Laura Coffee, Marketing & Owner Services Manager
Star Anise is the beautiful star-shaped pod of an evergreen tree which is used in cooking, baking, and medicine. Though the name and flavor are similar, it is not at all related to anise seeds, which are smaller and part of the parsley family. They are also visually quite different, and to me the flavor of Star Anise is smoother, sweeter, and less spicy. While Star Anise is most often associated with sweet dishes and drinks, it is surprisingly versatile and I hope you’ll be willing to give some savory flavors a try too! To follow along with future installments in this series, don’t forget to sign up with the CRDL.
Anise Spiced Cider
4 cups apple juice or cider
1/2 orange, sliced, peel on
2 whole Star Anise
1 cinnamon stick
Make sure the orange peel is clean before slicing and remove any seeds from the slices as they can add bitterness. Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and cook, covered, on medium heat for about 20 minutes. A low boil is fine, but turn down the heat if your pot reaches a rolling boil. You can serve the cider hot immediately, or remove the spices and orange slices and store in the fridge for a few days.
3 cups water
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp ginger juice or fresh ginger
1/2 cup dry or 3/4 cup fresh mushrooms
1 whole Star Anise
1 hot pepper, optional
You can make this broth in advance and store in the fridge or freezer or you can make it right when you plan to use it. It can be used as a base for simple vegetable soup, or, as I did, to give flavor to noodles like ramen or soba.
To make the broth in advance, combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer for 8-10 minutes. Remove the Star Anise at this point to prevent the flavor from becoming too strong. Store in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for a few months.
To make the broth and use it immediately, combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer for about 4 minutes. Then add two servings of the noodle of your choice and cook until desired doneness is achieved. (Again, remove the Star Anise after 8-10 minutes whether the noodles are done cooking or not.) You can enjoy the finished soup as is, or add desired extras. I enjoyed mine with the addition of shredded carrots, greens, and a hard boiled egg. Other potential additions include bean sprouts, shredded radish, sliced chicken or pork, cubed tofu or pumfu. I like to remove the pot from the heat and place the extra items in with the noodles and let them rest for about 5 minutes to gently warm in the broth before serving.