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Dec 20, 2006 02:43 PM

Star Anise

I have a recipe for chicken dummettes that calls for one star anise. I live in an area where star anise is just not available. Is there anything I can use to substitute? Thanks.

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  1. Could you give us the recipe you're using? It'd be great to know what other ingredients are in order to answer.

    1. I thought I couldn't find star anise at my grocery store, but found it hidden in the Mexican/Latin foods section with the adobo. Why they don't put all of the spices together, I have no clue.

      I agree that if you give us your recipe or the context of the use, there may be some easy substitutions.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mels

        yes, and it will usually be in a little cellophane bag for about 1/3 of the cost!

      2. Try looking for:
        Chinese Five Spice.
        Tazo Chai tea.

        1. anise seeds, fennel seeds, or licorice r the only substitutes I can think of. I would suggest (I'm guessing) - about 3/4 tsp or fennel seeds would work just fine.

          1. Here is the recipe:

            In a 3 quart saucepan, combine 2 cups water, 1/2 cup dark soy sauce, 1/3 cup regular soy sauce, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 4 quater sized slices of ginger lightly crushed, 2 chopped green onions, 1 star anise, and 1/8 tsp of five spice powder. Bring to boil. Add chicken drummettes, reduce to simmer until chicken is tender.

            Maybe the star anise is not really needed. Also, why use two kinds of soy sauce? How would the taste change if I used just regular soy sauce? I also have a Japenese soy sauce if that would be a better solution. Thanks.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JonH

              Often this dish is called 'red cooked'. The basic step is simmering the meat in a soy sauce rich liquid. The other items add flavor, but are not essential, and can be varied. I wouldn't worry too much about the different soy sauces - a half cup or more of regular will do.

              I think five spice powder already includes star anise. The label may say. You could increase that a bit. The star anise adds a nice licorice quality to the dish, though I usually throw in 3 or 4. Fennel seeds should also work, even through they are not normally used in Chinese cooking.

              Star anise can be found among the Mexican spices (usually in small celo packages). According to one Mexican store owner, they use it more for medicinal purposes than for cooking.

              Dried shitake mushrooms are another flavor component in this type of dish.

              The cooking liquid can be saved and reused to cook more meat. I like using boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They are convenient, and I don't think the skin contributes anything to the dish.


              1. re: JonH

                Just add more five spice. Star anise is one of the five spice. The reason for dark soy and light soy is the meat is supposed to be nice and dark bronze color, which the dark soy will provide. If you use all regular soy the chicken would be too salty.

                You can reuse the liquid for other meats like pork chop, boil eggs and even beef shank.

                It's a pretty traditional cold starter dish found in Northern China.

                1. re: JonH

                  The Dark soy is to give the chicken color. Dark soy is not as salty as the light soy. The star anise is to help rid the chikcen smell. I'm Chinese American with a lot of experience in Asia. Lee Kum Kee does sell a pre-mixed version of the sauce you are making. It comes in a bottle and I was just playing around with it the other night. You just pour it out of the bottle and put it in the pan with the chicken.