Vegetarian Star Anise recipes?
April 20, 2010 8:51 AM   Subscribe

What's a vegetarian to do with a bag of Star Anise?

I purchased a small stash of Star Anise pods to make pho with, and I am just loving the stuff. I have a decent veggie pho recipe but I want to try using this in as many other ways as possible. Either that or I may just become a Star Anise huffing addict.

I would also appreciate any other vegetarian pho recipes as mine is good but not great.

posted by WinnipegDragon to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Not pho, but I make this relatively simple Asian-ish soup all the time and it's lovely.
posted by Knicke at 8:53 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh you wonderful bastards, you...

Keep 'em coming!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:14 AM on April 20, 2010

Homemade liqueurs might call for star anise.
posted by gimonca at 9:19 AM on April 20, 2010

I use it as one of the spices in chai (cardamom, cinnamon, clove, peppercorns, allspice, ginger, star anise, and (of course) tea).
posted by JiBB at 9:30 AM on April 20, 2010

Put one in a mug of hot chocolate! Or in a jug of ice water. I was at a meeting once where there was star anise in the water instead of a lemon wedge, and it was an awesome idea.
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:31 AM on April 20, 2010

I was told by Reptile's college roommates that it was essential for stir-fry. It is tasty, and we almost always use it.

(I was also told that 'American onions have no place in Chinese cooking,' fwiw.)
posted by cobaltnine at 9:37 AM on April 20, 2010

Winter fruit salad. My (Vietnamese) people also use it to flavor other desserts, like rice pudding with coconut milk.
posted by dhn at 9:50 AM on April 20, 2010

Put a little bit in your lemonade.
posted by Jode at 9:51 AM on April 20, 2010

If you have a mortar and pestle, crush them up, throw it in a pot of water with black tea leaves. Strain them out, mix in sugar. Chill it in the fridge, then when it's cold, pour over a glass of ice, pour milk on top. Tada! Chilled thai tea.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:53 AM on April 20, 2010

Asian pears in parchment. I saw this on PBS just the other day, and immediately thought of it when I saw your question.
posted by chiababe at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2010

Apple cider!
posted by kathryn at 9:59 AM on April 20, 2010

I throw one or two in, along with a cardamom pod, when making a big pot of steel-cut oats for breakfast.

This Spiced-Tea Cranberry Sauce is profoundly delicious.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:17 AM on April 20, 2010

I've also heard you can use it in place of fennel in any dish. Just remember to take it out before serving. The flavor is really good.
posted by garnetgirl at 10:21 AM on April 20, 2010

There is a style of Chinese Cooking called "Red Cooking." It is essentially a Chinese braise, maybe a bit stew-like. While it usually involves meat, sometime fish, you can make a pretty good vegetarian dish with dried mushrooms and wheat gluten (the dried spongy kind is better than seitan, but you could add seitan late in the process, if that's what you have. You can gGoogle "Red Cooked Vegetables" for specific recipes, or I would try:

* 4 scallions, cut into 3" pieces and smacked with the back of a knife of cleaver.
* 2" ginger, cut into coins and also "smacked"
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 cups water or vegetable broth
* 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine (sake or dry sherry could be used in a pinch)
* 2 Tbs dark soy sauce (or mushroom flavored soy sauce, if you can get it)
* 2 star anise
* 1 stick cinnamon

* A bunch of dried mushrooms -- maybe 8-10 shiitake and an equal amount of something else. Prepare as normal -- de-stem the shiitake, cut really big things into smaller pieces, soak everything in warm water for 30 minutes. The liquid, strained, can replace all or part of the broth, above.
* Dried washed gluten (if you can get it; seitan will work, but add it late. Tofu would also work, but you won't want to simmer it too long)
*Other vegetables would probably work -- baby corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts? Peppers or onions, not so much. I have never tried potatoes or sweet potatoes or daikon, but I bet they would work.

* 3 tsp Golden rock sugar (if you have it, brown sugar will work in a pinch)

1. Heat some vegetable oil in a heavy pot. Add scallion, ginger, and garlic. Stir for about a minute. Add the mushrooms. Stir fry for a minute or so. Add the broth, soy, wine, and spices.
2. Add the dried gluten if using. Add other vegetables, if using. If you add peppers, don't say I didn't warn you.
3. Cook for 30 minutes. You want a boil, then a nice simmer. If it looks too thick, add more broth. You want a moderately thick final sauce, but this is definitely a stew-ish kind of thing. The gluten should get pretty soft.
4. If you are using seitan or other "wet" gluten, add it now.
5. Cook for maybe 10 more minutes.
6. Add tofu if you are using it instead of gluten.
7. Add the sugar and cook for another 10 minutes so it dissolves and the sauce thickens a bit. Check for salt; maybe add a little more sugar.
8. Pick out the star anise and the cinnamon. Eat! The scallions can be eaten, the ginger less so, depending on whether you peeled it and how much it has broken down. You can always suck the sauce off it.

After you have eaten all the vegetables, filter the sauce and save it. You can use it as a base for the next batch, adjusting ingredients as you go. This is considered low class in some parts of China, apparently, but not in others. I have tried adding sliced hard-boiled eggs to the reheated sauce; that was pretty good.

For the non-vegetarians, this works really well with meat, although you usually want to de-fat the sauce before serving.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:41 AM on April 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Pour a shot of Sambuca into a cocktail glass, and float a star anise pod on top. Put a match to the alcohol; it will burn briefly, charring the pod just a bit. Drink. Repeat.
posted by Gortuk at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fill a mason jar with your favorite vodka and drop some pods in. Out the lid on it and place the jar in a dark cupboard for 1-2 weeks, shaking it every day. Strain the final product through cheese cloth and serve with your favorite savory beverages.
posted by nestor_makhno at 1:32 PM on April 20, 2010

Pear Butter

I made a batch and it was ooh so yummy.
posted by sandraregina at 2:11 PM on April 20, 2010

Sorry, the link didn't take:
posted by sandraregina at 2:11 PM on April 20, 2010

I'm a some-time beer brewer and a while back I made a very heavy chocolate stout. Almost as an afterthought I threw in a handful of star anise pods and let them sit in the fermenter while the stout did its thing.

The result was... interesting. As a flavour, the star anise really worked with the bitterness and richness of the stout, but it gave the stout a really strange mouth-feel. It literally tingled on your tongue. Not unpleasant, but very odd.

Unfortunately, star anise as a flavour is clearly tenatious, and every beer I've mde in the same fermenter since then has had the faintest echo of aniseed. Again, not unpleasant, but definitely odd.
posted by tim_in_oz at 3:42 PM on April 20, 2010

Thai iced tea! I don't know if this is authentic, I mostly made it up, but here's my recipe:

16 star anise, crushed
4 cinnamon sticks OR 1 1/2 TBSP cinnamon chunks
2 cloves
scrapings of 1/2 vanilla bean (optional but awesome)
3-4 "iced tea" sized plain black tea bags
1 1/2 c white sugar
2 qts water

Bring water to barely simmering and hold there.
Add tea bags and spices.
After 10 mins, remove tea bags; continue steeping spices an additional 15-20.
Add sugar, stirring to dissolve thoroughly.
Remove from heat and drain through fine sieve.
Add additional 2 qts cold water.
Chill overnight or at least 6 hrs.

This is good clear or with a little milk added. For extra deliciousness, cut the sugar in half and then, when cold, stir in sweetened condensed milk to taste.
posted by miagaille at 4:42 AM on April 21, 2010

Beverages and baking, yeah. Tea and cocoa, Asian five-spice shortbread, chocolate cake, cookies, scones.

The cheater's version of pho I make at home (I made it for dinner last night in fact, weirdly) has you broil onion, garlic, ginger, and peppers sprinkled with star anise, then putting all of it in stock with fish sauce, etc. The slightly scorched veggies with anise flavor would be good in all sorts of things, I bet, not just pho. You could top rice with it, roll it into a dumpling/springroll/burrito with rice or something, or just eat it straight.
posted by ifjuly at 9:31 AM on April 21, 2010

I like to crack the pods open and eat the seeds. I know, I'm weird like that.
posted by leapfrog at 8:52 AM on April 22, 2010

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