Star Anise is a dark brown pod that contains a seed in each of its eight segments. Native to China, it comes from a small evergreen tree of the magnolia family (Illicium verum).
Star Anise is used in the East the same way that Aniseed is used in the West. Both contain anethol, which is what provides the distinctive flavour, but Star Anise is slightly more bitter.
Star Anise is a key ingredient in Chinese Five Spice Powder. Whole stars can be added directly to cooking but are usually removed before serving or grind them, remembering to use less than if you use them whole. Star Anise complements duck, pork and chicken dishes.