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mystery spice for Chinese beef stew?

misterchang Oct 18, 2010 12:37 PM

Hi - just had a homecooked lunch with my parents: beef stew...fried rice...cabbage soup with mushrooms & sardines. For the beef stew my stepmom used a spice that is called "eight angles" in Chinese (after the shape of the seed pod -- see photo, with basil leaf for scale). They couldn't tell me the English name...anyone know? Thanks.

  1. Anonimo Nov 7, 2010 02:19 AM

    This is the mystery to me:
    "cabbage soup with mushrooms & sardines".

    For real?

    1. c
      ChiliDude Nov 5, 2010 02:14 PM

      I have another question relating to your favorite comfort food, scallion pancakes. Are the scallions known as 'jiao cai?' The reason for my query is that I have jiao cai or 'garlic chive' growing in my small garden, and the plants are 35+ years old. Jiao cai is a hardy plant that does not winter kill, and comes up every spring.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ChiliDude
        Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2010 02:26 PM

        Jiao Cai (better known as garlic chive or Chinese chive) is definitely not what most people use for scallion pancakes. Scallion is scallion. This is off topic. If you want to continue this topic, it may be best to make a new post.

        1. re: ChiliDude
          scoopG Nov 5, 2010 02:31 PM

          No, scallions are 蔥 Cong1. Perhaps you are thinking of 韭菜 jiu3 Cai4 which are leeks or garlic chives.

          1. re: scoopG
            ChiliDude Nov 6, 2010 03:57 AM

            Thanks for the information. I recognize the character for jiu3 as the one written down for me by the person who gave me the original garlic chive plants more than 35 years ago.

            1. re: ChiliDude
              scoopG Nov 7, 2010 02:14 AM

              Glad to know they are still growing strong!

        2. r
          rinkatink888 Nov 5, 2010 02:13 PM

          MMmmmm, this reminds me it time to make this style of beef stew, but mine has beef tendons and daikon also. It's so good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rinkatink888
            Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2010 02:29 PM

            Me too. I often (not always) put daikon.

          2. c
            ChiliDude Nov 5, 2010 02:08 PM

            Just out of curiosity, did your stepmom refer to the star anise as 'bot guok' or 'pak kok?' The former being in Cantonese, the latter is Mandarin. Or was it referred to in a dialect from a particular locality?

            1 Reply
            1. re: ChiliDude
              scoopG Nov 5, 2010 02:25 PM

              Pak Kok must be another dialect. In Mandarin, star anise is 八角 - Ba1 Jiao3.

            2. davkiang Nov 5, 2010 10:53 AM

              Very nice. Beef stew is one of my fav dishes, just for the reason of making noodles later. Do you have an idea of the recipe?

              1. m
                misterchang Oct 19, 2010 10:00 AM

                Thanks. FYI, the leftovers were reincarnated as beef noodle soup with fish cake, poached egg, and shiitake...

                1 Reply
                1. re: misterchang
                  bushwickgirl Oct 19, 2010 12:57 PM

                  and look delicious!

                2. Chemicalkinetics Oct 18, 2010 05:13 PM

                  Exactly what everyone said. It is called Star Anise. In Chinese, eight corners (well, that is a partial name anyway).

                  1. amokscience Oct 18, 2010 12:41 PM

                    Star Anise

                    30 Replies
                    1. re: amokscience
                      bushwickgirl Oct 18, 2010 01:14 PM

                      Without a doubt.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                        wattacetti Oct 18, 2010 04:17 PM

                        Relatively rare to see them with their stalks still attached.

                        1. re: wattacetti
                          bushwickgirl Oct 19, 2010 04:33 AM

                          True, don't think I've actually ever...

                          1. re: bushwickgirl
                            Caroline1 Nov 5, 2010 04:24 PM

                            I guess it depends on where you buy it. I've never bought whole star anise that didn't have at least some stems.

                      2. re: amokscience
                        greygarious Nov 5, 2010 11:13 AM

                        Star anise is one of the ingredients in 5-spice powder, by the way, so it's used in lots of Chinese dishes without being directly mentioned..

                        1. re: greygarious
                          ipsedixit Nov 5, 2010 11:20 AM

                          Grind them up in a mortar & pestle, and incorporate it into your chocolate cake. You'll be amazed at the results. Gives your chocolate a totally new deepr and more complex aroma and a richer flavor.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            buttertart Nov 5, 2010 12:01 PM

                            Wow, must try. How much to an average cake recipe?

                            1. re: buttertart
                              ipsedixit Nov 5, 2010 03:05 PM

                              I use about 1/2 teaspoon of ground star anise for each 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder that you use in your cake.

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                bushwickgirl Nov 6, 2010 01:45 PM

                                Must try.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl
                                  amokscience Nov 7, 2010 01:41 PM

                                  Just tried. Good flavor, just a hint of 'something' that'll leave you wondering.

                                  1. re: amokscience
                                    bushwickgirl Nov 7, 2010 03:58 PM

                                    I do like to leave 'em wondering.

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                                      GlobalTable Nov 8, 2010 08:56 AM

                                      Yum! I love the idea of adding it to a chocolate cake.... do you like it better than adding coffee?

                                    2. re: amokscience
                                      ipsedixit Nov 7, 2010 07:40 PM

                                      Glad you liked it and you described it better than I did "just a hint of 'something' that'll leave you wondering"!

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        amokscience Nov 7, 2010 09:46 PM

                                        Thank you for suggesting it. Made a drive-by thread a lot more rewarding. There are going to be a lot of impressed people at work this week :)

                                        1. re: amokscience
                                          ipsedixit Nov 8, 2010 08:32 AM


                                          May I ask what dessert or pastry you made? Was it a chocolate cake, or something else? Always looking for new ideas ...

                                          I've added star anise to all sorts of things (with varying levels of success), incl. the aforementioned chocolate cake, as well as brownies, tiramisu, coffee cake, banana cake, meringue cookies, and even ganache.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            amokscience Nov 8, 2010 08:53 AM

                                            Used it with brownies. I added either a half or full teaspoon of freshly ground star anise to a reduced (half?) batch. They disappeared early at work and I've had some positive queries about what's different.

                                            Going to make chocolate ice cream with star anise later.

                                            1. re: amokscience
                                              ipsedixit Nov 8, 2010 08:58 AM

                                              A word to the wise about using star anise for ice cream.

                                              It's better to steep the whole cloves in the milk / custard mixture and then remove when making ice cream. I've found ground star anise in ice cream doesn't really provide much flavor -- something about the cold doesn't really bring out its flavor. Of course, your results may vary. Good luck and enjoy.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                alkapal Nov 8, 2010 02:23 PM

                                                ipse is suffering identity crisis with all the changing avatars! ;-).

                                                what does this one mean?

                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                  ipsedixit Nov 8, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                  Eh, just something that appeared when I dropped my ink pen on a white piece of paper ...

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    alkapal Nov 8, 2010 02:50 PM


                                                    1. re: alkapal
                                                      ipsedixit Nov 8, 2010 03:01 PM

                                                      That's what some people say about my cooking ... esp. my Garbage Can Carrot Cake.

                                  2. re: ipsedixit
                                    buttertart Nov 8, 2010 08:01 AM

                                    I am definitely going to try this. Thanks, sir!

                                2. re: ipsedixit
                                  Caroline1 Nov 5, 2010 04:23 PM

                                  Or you can add star anise to a white cake and pass it off as root beer cake. VERY passable flavor!

                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                    funniduck Nov 6, 2010 04:01 PM

                                    really? I'm totally trying this. How much do I add?

                                    1. re: funniduck
                                      Caroline1 Nov 7, 2010 05:45 PM

                                      Depends on how many cake layers you're making, but for two 9" layers I'd start off with a teaspoon of ground and taste the batter. You can always add more ut it's darn difficult to take out.

                                    2. re: Caroline1
                                      MartiniGenie Nov 7, 2010 04:17 PM

                                      I'm in, too! Do you add ground or steep the whole anise in a liquid before adding?

                                      1. re: MartiniGenie
                                        Caroline1 Nov 7, 2010 05:46 PM

                                        Just use the ground star anise. Once you get into steeping that pushes you into liquid balance. The ground is much easier!

                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                          MartiniGenie Nov 8, 2010 03:03 PM

                                          Will do, thanks. What kind of frosting would you do for this cake? 7 minute?

                                    3. re: ipsedixit
                                      alkapal Nov 6, 2010 02:01 PM

                                      that is interesting!

                                      1. re: alkapal
                                        MartiniGenie Nov 7, 2010 04:19 PM

                                        Yuppers, alkapal!

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