Think Spice…Think Star Anise!

Chinese Beef & Mushroom StewI am often amused by the English language. Since it is what I grew up with, I don’t often notice the humor. But when I try to explain the rules and tendencies to others, it becomes comical. One word can have numerous meanings. Several words, although written differently, can all sound like the same word. As well, several words can have the same meaning. Hmm…confused?

Allow me to offer an example. The word “star.”

  1. A massive, luminous ball of plasma.
  2. An ideograph, most commonly represents the astronomical star for which it is named.
  3. In typography, a star is any of a number of glyphs with a number of triangular points arrayed within an imaginary circle.
  4. An asterisk (*) is a typographical symbol or glyph.
  5. Used as symbols for classification purposes.
  6. A pop star is a celebrity who is widely-recognized or famous person who commands a high degree of public and media attention.
  7. A movie star (cinema star or film star) is a celebrity who is well-known, or famous, for his or her starring, or leading, roles in motion pictures.
  8. Cities located in Ada County, Idaho, Rankin County, Mississippi, Montgomery County, North Carolina, and Mills County, Texas.
  9. STAR is the Society of Ticket Agent and Retailers.
  10. A song title by Bryan Adams, David Bowie, Erasure and many others.

There are also bands named Star, there are books named Star, there are movies with the word Star in their title, video games, transportation companies, newspapers, radio stations, and even hockey teams.

Obviously I could go on and on, but hopefully you already get the point! All that aside, today I want to share a special star with you. Star Anise. It is the base of a delicious Chinese Five Spice. But on it’s own it infuses a distinct anise-like flavor to food. Here, it is paired with beef and mushrooms to form a delicious meal.

Chinese Beef & Mushroom Stew

Yield: Serves 6

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light


  • 1 1/2 pounds of stew meat
  • 1 cup of chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon of grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 dried red chiles
  • 1 1/4 cups of water
  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • 12 ounces of sliced mushrooms (button or portabella are fine)


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 8 minutes on all sides or until browned.
  2. Add green onion, ginger, and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, pepper, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, chiles, water and beef broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours of until beef is tender.
  3. Stir in mushrooms. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Discard star anise, cloves, dried chiles, and cinnamon stick. Serve beef mixture over rice with sauce.

Chinese Beef & Mushroom Stew is my submission for Think Spice…Think Star Anise, hosted by Sunita from Sunita’s World.


Gretchen Noelle

My love of food was cultivated early on by my family but has come alive while living in Peru. During the 12 years of living in Lima, Peru, I have also enjoyed numerous trips to other areas of the country. Here on Provecho Peru you will find Peruvian recipes in English, American favorites prepared overseas, news about Peruvian Cuisine and interesting tidbits about life in Peru.

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9 Responses

  1. eliza says:

    i love the smell of star anise in food! thanks for leaving a comment in my blog… you have a nice blog here.

  2. Tartelette says:

    Great recipe! I bet the star anise to it to stardom level! I feel the same way tutoring in French!

  3. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    I love the flavor of star anise with beef. You don’t particularly notice when it is there, but you definitely notice when it is not, especially when you are trying to make an authentic Chinese dish.

  4. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Gretchen this looks really soooo go and your lead in is so perfect. Once you start thinking about all those words, they start turning up all over.

  5. Aran Goyoaga says:

    I loooove star anise. It’s one of those flavors that is hard to pick out but truly makes a difference. It’s funny because I was thinking about pineapple and star anise this morning. I love that combination. I have never included it in with beef so this might be a thing I need to try. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Julie says:

    I love star anise, especially in braising liquids. Oh yum… thanks for sharing.

  7. Cakelaw says:

    Yum! This sounds like a delicious dish.

  8. sunita says:

    Thanks dear Gretchen for that lovely dish…and yes,what can I say about the language 😀

  9. Gretchen Noelle says:

    Eliza – Star anise is so unique and I love that!Tartelette – Thanks! Haha!Lydia – It does just seem to leave a hint that is unforgettable!Tanna – Thanks! Sweet of you to say!Aran – I loved how your thoughts turned out!Julie – Yes it adds a wonderful touch!Cakelaw – Thanks, it was!Sunita – You are very welcome!

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