Star Anise llicium verum
The Comma Shaped Spice & The Star Shaped Spice
Used in cooking as far back as 1500 BC, anise is from the parsley family of plants. Anise seeds look like caraway seeds but are flatter. They are sometimes referred to as being comma shaped. Biting one gives you the sweet flavor of licorice with an added small kick of heat.
An important spice in Southeast Asian cuisine, a Chinese cook will more likely use star anise than anise seed. In countries like Iran, Indonesia, and India both anise seeds and fennel seeds are referred to by the same name. In the Far Eastern Cuisine they are interchangeable. In the Philippines star anise is used instead of anise seeds, but it is referred to as anise for short.
In our cuisine anise is almost always relegated to baking in breads or cakes. Anise will occasionally find its way into sausages as well as soups and stews. The way the Western culture knows Anise the best is through its use in distilled spirits. In Turkey it is the flavor in Raki, while in Greece it is the flavor of the always popular Ouzo. Not to be outdone, when in France order Pernod for the great flavor of anise.
If you are out of anise seeds you may substitute fennel.
Anise celery soup
Star Anise Poached Peaches
Star Anise Vegetable Salad