A favourite in Chinese cooking, star anise is also used widely in Greek and French cuisine, since it has an intense, aromatic flavour that’s good for sauces.
On the health front, it’s a powerful antioxidant which helps fight conditions such as cold and flu. In addition, it aids sleep disorders and digestion, and has antifungal and antibacterial capabilities too.
Here, Country Range Student Chef Challenge chairman of judges, Christopher Basten, shares his star recipes…
1. Star anise tea
This tea is really good for sense of wellbeing and also excellent for settling a delicate tummy!
Take one star anise and a teaspoon of good honey then add boiling water and infuse all together for at least 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
2. Infused sugar
My mum used to infuse sugar for baking to add additional flavour and it really does make an astonishing difference. Simply combine the sugar with star anise, a vanilla pod and a cinnamon stick and store in an airtight container. It will take around two weeks to infuse and will keep for around three months. Use it to make a rich fruit cake or cookies.
3. Roasted sweet potato
Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into chunks then drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Roast until crisp then finish with a squeeze of lime, star anise and ginger and roast for another five minutes to infuse the flavours.
4. Carrot and staranise purée
Cook your carrots in carrot and orange juice, adding a whole star anise for half the cooking time. Remove from the heat then spin in a high-speed blender spin for at least five minutes, the longer the better for an ultra smooth purée.
5. Poached pear slices
Make a stock syrup with sugar, water, lemon, a cinnamon stick, one star anise and a squeeze of fresh orange. Poach some pear slices in the syrup for 3-4 minutes, cool and seal in a Kilner jar.
About Christopher Basten
Christopher Basten is a classically trained chef and lecturer, who is passionate about educating the chefs of the future.
A former national chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs, he is also the chair of judges for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge.
He is also the culinary team captain for the Craft Guild of Chefs, competing in culinary competitions around the world.