I love ingredients that can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes. The idea of creating a three course meal around a theme flavour used in all of the courses is a challenge that excites me. Star Anise is one of those ingredients.
Star Anise is actually not related to Anise but contains anethole, which is the same thing in Anise that gives it it’s flavour. Star Anise is harvested from Illicium Verum, an evergreen tree that grows in Asia. As a result, Star Anise is most widely used in Asian cuisines as a flavour enhancer for meats, broths, teas, and rice dishes. It is also used in the production of liquors such as Absinthe, Sambuca, and Pastis.
The spicy liquorice flavour of Anise pairs amazingly with proteins such as duck and pork, it is great when infused into a dessert such as creme brûlée, and tastes fantastic in a meat broth for soup noodles.
Infused salts are so much fun to use. By infusing salt with other flavours you not only boost the flavour of the salt, you also boost the flavour of what you add to the salt. It might seem like a daunting task, but it’s the easiest thing in the world to do and it will provide an extra boost to your meal. Simply sprinkle it over cooked meat, pastas, risotto, anything.
All you need to do is put coarse sea salt in your food processor and pulse it until you have the size of grain you want. If you don’t have a food processor use a mortar and pestle, please don’t use a blender. After that, all you need to do is add your flavours to the salt. The longer the mixture is left, the more the flavours will develop. Below is a list of some examples of what you can infuse your salt with:
Recently I infused salt with thyme and lemon zest and put it in small mason jars as Christmas gifts. Everyone I gave it to loved the idea.