China / Illicium verum
This pretty, star-shaped spice has an intensely sweet licorice taste and smell, offering a notable counter-point of flavor. It has many uses both alone and in combination. Star anise pairs beautifully with sweet potatoes and pumpkin, and offers a unique addition to caramelized onions. Just toss a small piece in the pan and it really brings out the 'beefiness' of the onions. Star anise is a key ingredient in Chinese Five Spice, and flavors the beef stock for the Vietnamese soup, pho.
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