Anise’s namesake is derived from star anise, which is a seed pod of a medium-sized evergreen tree in the magnolia family (illicium verum). Star anise is native to northeast Vietnam but not to be confused with the western aniseed or the poisonous Japanese star anise.
According to WebMD, star anise seeds contain ingredients that might have activity against bacteria, yeast, and fungi. People try star anise for treating flu because it is a good source of shikimic acid, which is used in the manufacture of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), a flu treatment. Foodnetwork.com says one tablespoon of star anise has 22 calories and is fat and cholesterol free. It’s a good source of iron and has a touch of calcium and vitamin C.
Star anise produces a sweet pleasant tasting licorice flavor. Before it is used as a spice, star anise is dried, which helps turns it into a deep brown or rust color. Star anise is commonly used in savory dishes and pairs well with beef or poultry but it is best known as a main spice for pho.
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