Star anise is the fruit of a tree and not to be confused with anisseed. The last is the seed of a plant. The trees mostly grow in Asia and it won’t sound strange to you to find out that star anise is one of the base ingredients of the Chinese five spice.
The dried fruits look a little bit like a star and will remind you and make you feel like a warm winter night. While star anis is also highly decorative, never make the mistake of picking one out of a flowerpiece or something similar. These ‘fake’ star anise are from a Japanese variant and are extremely toxic!
The whole fruit is used in stews and sauces to subtly give of the aromatic flavor. Sometimes the ground variant is used and always be careful with how much you put in as too much will not be very nice.
Staranis is used in both sweet and savory dishes and completes the taste of many recipes.
Star anis with apple or with pork is a classic combination, but also try staranis with rhubarb or poached fish in a stock of star anise.