Star anise look like the prettiest potpourri of them all –  but they’re not just a pretty face! The cute star-shaped seed pods are widely used in Chinese cuisine and impart a spicy, licorice-y flavor to anything cooked in liquids seasoned with them. You can grind them directly into soup and desserts, too!

Chinese Poached Chicken Breasts with Star Anise

3 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
2 carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
6 scallions including green tops, 5 cut into 4-inch lengths, 1 chopped
6 1/2-inch slices peeled fresh ginger, smashed, plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup brown sugar, preferably dark
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 whole star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
6 black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/3 pounds in all)

In a large saucepan, combine the broth, carrots, the 5 scallions, the smashed ginger, the garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Add the sherry and chicken and bring back to a simmer over moderately low heat, covered. Turn the chicken and simmer, covered, until the chicken is just done, about 5 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, carrots, and star anise to large shallow bowls. Strain the broth and add the minced ginger and 2 tablespoons of the chopped scallion. Ladle the broth over the chicken and top with the remaining chopped scallion.

Carrot Soup with Star Anise

3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
6 large fresh thyme sprigs
5 whole star anise,* divided
2 small bay leaves
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 1-pound bags peeled baby carrots
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
print a shopping list for this recipe
Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, 3 star anise, bay leaves, and garlic. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and broth. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove and discard thyme sprigs, star anise, and bay leaves. Working in small batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth; return to same pot. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and chill. Rewarm over low heat before continuing.)

Finely grind remaining star anise in spice mill or coffee grinder. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with ground star anise.

Plum Compote with Star Anise

1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar, more if the plums are tart
8 whole star anise
2 pounds red and/or black plums (about 9), halved and pitted
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

In a medium stainless-steel saucepan, combine the wine, water, sugar, and star anise and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.

Add the plums. Bring the poaching liquid back to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the plums are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the plums and their liquid into a glass or stainless-steel bowl and let cool. Stir in the lemon juice.

One Response

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published.