Chinese star anise is an essential ingredient in five spice powder, widely used with duck, chicken and pork in Chinese cooking; in garam masala, a spice mix from Indian cuisine; as well as in the cooking of Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. In Europe it is used in several popular liqueurs and aperitifs, including pastis, absinthe, anisette and, reputedly, Sambuca and Galliano. It shares with the completely unrelated herb anise the substance anethole, which gives it a strong aniseed flavour. The tree is a small evergreen from southern China and Vietnam with attractive ivory, star-shaped flowers.
The spice is used in Chinese and northern Vietnamese cooking and is one of the ingredients in five-spice powder.
It can be used as a substitute for anise and is frequently used to flavour liqueurs such as Pernod.
It is also used to give an aniseed flavour to confectionary and is an ingredient in some cough mixtures.