Like other spices that contain anetole, ground star anise has a licorice-like flavor and aroma that is warm and sweet. It will add a bit of complexity to your dish in that its flavor also hints at mint and clove.
Perhaps it is this complexity that makes it an appealing addition to meats and stews as well as to other savory dishes. It adds a decidedly deep richness to onions, poultry, citrus, duck, beef, and other foods. It's a star ingredient in Chinese five spice powder, and whole pods are often simmered in making the broth for Vietnamese pho. It is also found in sweeter fall treats like ciders, nogs, and baked desserts.
Has spicy hints of licorice, anise seed, and fennel with a sweet roundness in its aftertaste.
Licorice-like aroma, warm and pungent.
Pair with cardamom or ginger to enhance the pungent eucalyptus notes; pair with baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg/mace, or allspice to enhance sweetness; add complexity with juniper's citrusy undertones.
Anise and star anise are not the same spice, nor are they related species despite the similar name and flavor profile. They do both contain the organic compound anethole, which gives them their similar licorice flavor.
Fennel is another spice that contains anethole. It is a seed that is often confused with anise—due to its similar flavor profile and also to its similar appearance. Fennel seed is considerably larger and often brighter in color than anise seed. Anise seed, in addition to being smaller, also tends to have a small bit of stem "tail" attached to one end; whereas this happens only occasionally with fennel, it is much more frequent in anise seed.
Since anise seed is more expensive to produce than star anise, star anise has surpassed anise in production for anethole extraction and for commercial use in flavoring food products. Anethole is reputedly multiple times sweeter than sugar with the distinction of having a pleasant flavor at higher concentrations.