Native to Mediterranean and the Middle East, anise comes from a similar family like dill, fennel, coriander and cumin. Although it has aromatic similarities with Vietnamese and South Chinese star anise, they are completely different species. Star anise has a much more powerful aroma and its star shape is very different compared to anise seeds. Nevertheless, both types have aromatic similarities with liquorice.
Anise seeds are small and have green-brown colour. Its earliest use was medicinal but the Romans discovered the authentic aroma of this plant and started using it as a flavouring agent in food. It was particularly used in preparing a cake that was served after meals to help digestion. As time passed, anise also became a very important spice for flavouring traditional drinks special to some cultures.
The aroma and taste of anise seeds are sweet. It contains warm and fruity notes that remind liquorice. Its tasting properties also remind of fennel.
Anise seeds add an extraordinary taste to light, white meat such as fish and chicken. They also go very well with cabbage meals. They bring a very nice flavour to savoury pastries such as bagel, bread and sweet pastries like cookies, cakes, biscuits as well as fruit desserts and confectionery.
Dry roasting anise seeds on medium heat for a couple of minutes just before using it brings out a more powerful aroma.
You can grow your own anise at home just by planting seeds in pots.
As a spice, it is best bought as seeds. You can preserve the seeds in an airtight glass container for about 2 years.
Some recipes call for ground anise seeds. You can easily grind them at home by using a mortar, a spice grinder or a rondo.
Figs and anise is a perfect couple. Their tastes have a natural and unique harmony. In many countries, these two ingredients are combined to prepare different desserts. You can combine figs, anise and almond to make a surprisingly delicious cake. Besides figs, anise also goes very well with apple, chestnut, pumpkin and nuts.
To prepare a spice mix that goes very well with fish and sea fruits, simply blend an equal amount of cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, cloves and anise seed. Grind it and keep it in an airtight container.
Anise nicely flavours chicken to be roasted in the oven. Rub the chicken with some salt, olive oil and anise seed. Put the chicken in an oven bag. Set the oven to 170 degrees and cook your chicken around 1-1,5 hours.