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.


  1. Star anise is so pretty, I like the idea of using it for Christmas cards. And how I miss Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen!

  2. I love the smell of star anise, so nostalgic. I wonder how it grows? I like your crafting ideas for it, now I just want a dish of it out so I can look at it. Thanks for the recipe tip in VWV I'll check it out.

  3. I too was sold by rose - Danylion about the Chinese cookbook and its on my list. I like star anise in a vegan Plum Sorbet and in Spiced Mulled Apple Juice, it hits the spot when your cold and want warming up. I wish I lived somewhere near a place like Lotus Veg Kitchen, I'd frequent it often and my views of Chinese takeaway cuisine would change

  4. For some reason, I really like star anise but I'm not keen on five spice powder (though I like Chinese food a lot). I love cooking fruit with star anise too - plums are so good baked with it.

  5. I also picked something that I really like and don't use that often. Ha ha. I love Star Anise. It's so beautiful and I love the flavor... there's one recipe that I used to make pretty often with tempeh and bell peppers glazed with star anise. Mmmm.

  6. I love star anise as well, it adds such a nice flavour to things.

  7. Nice spice post! I love the way Star Anise looks!


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