Vegan Mofo Day 27: Favourite Herb or Spice
I've picked something that I very rarely use but I love - star anise! I'm not actually sure if it is a herb or a spice. In my internet research I saw it described as both! There were also all sorts of health claims made for it but only if it's the Chinese kind, apparently the Japanese type is poisonous!
My favourite type of cuisine is Chinese and it's a spice that pops up in some Chinese dishes due to it's inclusion in 5 spice powder. Good vegan Chinese food is not always that easy to come by though. Luckily we have the Red Dragon takeaway in Glossop which does a pretty decent selection and includes mock meats and tofu on their menu (it's surprising how many places in England still don't). We also have my favourite restaurant Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen a thirty minute drive away in South Manchester. The food is so good it has even converted Matt to being a fan of Chinese cuisine. Here's a picture of the Stuffed Three Treasures we enjoyed last time we went. Hopefully there's be more Chinese cooking action going on in my kitchen soon. After I saw this post by Dandelion Vegan on favourite cookbook day featuring Authentic Chinese Cuisine by Bryanna Clark Grogan I asked Matt to order it for my birthday in November.
Another favourite recipe of mine that uses it in the form of 5 spice powder isn't Chinese at all but is a breakfast potato hash dish from Vegan With A Vengeance. Isa came up with a genius idea of cooking sweet potatoes with onion, garlic, salt, 5 spice and watercress. It might sound a bit bizarre but trust me it works. The recipe is here online. And finally star anise is not just for cooking. I've used it for Christmas cards before. Glue a single star anise onto a square of gold card or paper (Chinese money paper is good) then glue that onto your card background and hey presto a simple but effective and great smelling hand made card.