Star Anise has a distinctive aroma and flavor, and the spice is used in many cuisines across the world. But what if you don’t have star anise? Fortunately, there are other spices that you can experiment with and get the same flavor of star anise. In this article, we will highlight some of its best substitutes.
What is Star Anise? How Does It Taste Like?
The Star Anise seed pod comes directly from the Illicium Verum Plant native only found growing deep within China’s forests. This spice is commonly used by chefs all over Asia, not due to its amazing flavor.
If you like the taste of star anise, then this sweet Chinese spice should be a great choice for your cooking. It has an earthy and slightly spicy flavor that pairs well with savory dishes. You can either use it as whole fruit or ground to add some kick into any meal. Star anise is not only used for its flavor but also for its benefits. The spice helps in relieving cramps, reduces nausea and improves digestion.
Anise seed is a native plant of Southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. It is derived from the Pimpinella anisum plant. You can either use these seeds or ground them. In appearance, they resemble a lot like fennel seeds but are much smaller. Moreover, Anise seeds share a similar taste to licorice, making them resemble star anise. You should remember that anise seeds are quite strong in flavor. So if you are using it as a star anise substitute, you have to be careful. Use one teaspoon of anise seed for two star anise.
Chinese Five Spice
As the name suggests, the Chinese five-spice is a blend of five spices. And it is one of the main ingredients that give Asian cuisine its rich flavor. It is a mixture of simple spices that you generally use for seasoning food. And you also use star anise to flavor your food. Generally, the herbs in the five-spice have no gluten, fat, dairy, or animal products. The ingredients in the five-spice can vary based on the location. Some of the common ingredients used to make Chinese five-spice include:
- Ground cloves
- Szechuan peppercorns
- Star anise
It has a slightly sweet flavor to it because of the cinnamon. Star anise gives a licorice flavor with a slightly bitter undertone. You just need ½ teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder for one star anise.
We get fennel seeds from the fennel plants. The seeds are dried and used in various recipes. In appearance, they are thin and long seeds with a pale green or brown color. While they are not as potent as star anise, fennel seeds do have a slight licorice flavor. For every star anise seed, you can combine 1 ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds with anise seeds. This combination is a great substitute due to the similar licorice flavor.
Fennel seeds are a particularly good replacement for star anise in certain recipes, such as carrot soup or pasta. In fact, its slightly woody and mildly licorice-like flavor makes it work better than star anise in marinara sauce.
Cloves are unopened, dried flower buds of the clove tree that are among the popular spices. Cloves are picked when they are unripe and dried, and used in various recipes worldwide. You can either use them as a whole or in grounded form. Cloves have a strong flavor that combines a bitter-sweet flavor with a touch of astringent taste. It is primarily used to bring heat to any dish. Cloves do not have the same licorice flavor that stands out in star anise. But still, it works as a great substitute because it provides similar bitterness and sweetness to your dish as star anise would give.
These seeds are also known as Persian cumin or meridian fennel. This tiny dried fruit from the caraway plant can be used whole to give your food a warm and earthy flavor or ground for some spice in your cooking. It’s native to Eastern Europe, North Africa, Western Asia – but you don’t need any of those places nearby because these babies grow all over the world. Caraway seeds have a similar pepper-like taste to star anise.
They are also equally bitter and offer more than one flavor profile when used in recipes. It has a vast array of flavors, including minty and peppery ones that can be enjoyed whole or ground for cooking purposes. You can mix caraway seed and tarragon to get the same flavor as star anise. For one teaspoon of star anise, you can mix ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds with tarragon mixture.
Allspice is basically the dried berries sourced from the Pimanta dioica plant. It is a common ingredient found all over the world. You will find it being used predominantly in savory dishes, such as tomato sauce, pumpkin sauce, apple pie, and any kind of meat. The shape of allspice is a lot like black pepper, though it’s brown in color. The flavor has a distinct blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
One of the popular uses of star anise is to make tea for an upset stomach. Allspice is the perfect replacement for this reason because allspice tea can soothe your ailment equally well. But allspice does not have that licorice-like flavor. So, you will either need to add a bit of sugar with the allspice or you can look into the other substitutes mentioned here.
Star anise is a popular spice that has been used in so many recipes worldwide. While the spice is easily accessible in your local stores, sometimes you just don’t have it. This is when you can consider using a substitute, especially when you don’t have enough time to run to the stores. Above are some of the best substitutes for star anise that are easily found in the kitchen.