Kitchen Q&A

Ask a cook: Are anise and star anise the same thing?


Charlotte Observer

Q: What’s the difference between anise and star anise? And how do you pronounce it?

A: The licorice-like flavor anise, or anise seed, turns up in drinks from Greek ouzo to French pastis and in breads and pastries from Europe to India. The flavor comes from an oil in the seed called anethol.

Star anise, found almost exclusively in Asia, comes from a different plant, a relative of the magnolia tree, but it also has anethol. It’s a dried fruit with a star shape that usually has eight points. The flavor is similar but a little more bitter. It’s one of the ingredients in Chinese five-spice powder.

The most common pronunciation for both forms is ann-ihs.

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