Think Spice…Think Star Anise!
I 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.”
- A massive, luminous ball of plasma.
- An ideograph, most commonly represents the astronomical star for which it is named.
- In typography, a star is any of a number of glyphs with a number of triangular points arrayed within an imaginary circle.
- An asterisk (*) is a typographical symbol or glyph.
- Used as symbols for classification purposes.
- A pop star is a celebrity who is widely-recognized or famous person who commands a high degree of public and media attention.
- 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.
- Cities located in Ada County, Idaho, Rankin County, Mississippi, Montgomery County, North Carolina, and Mills County, Texas.
- STAR is the Society of Ticket Agent and Retailers.
- 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.
- 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)
- Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 8 minutes on all sides or until browned.
- 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.
- Stir in mushrooms. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
- Discard star anise, cloves, dried chiles, and cinnamon stick. Serve beef mixture over rice with sauce.