Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Spice Is Right: Ancient Spices: Star Anise

I’m participating in a food blog event for the first time. This event, called “The Spice is Right” is hosted by Barbara Fisher of Tigers & Strawberries and its theme for this month is Ancient Spices. This event will occur monthly.

I chose the spice star anise as my entry and will be cooking and posting a recipe from Food & Wine magazine for Star Anise Pork. I’ve had a package of star anise in my cupboard for awhile now and have been meaning to use it but never came around to it. When I came across this event I thought now is my chance to experiment with star anise in terms of flavor as I’ve never had a dish using this particular spice. Although this is a common spice in the Philippines and can be found in any grocery, it is not commonly used in native Philippine dishes. It is more commonly used in Chinese dishes. Although the Chinese are a minority, 1% of the population, they are an important segment of Phil. society and so it is quite common to find Chinese ingredients in grocery stores and markets. Globally, star anise is used in Asian, European, English and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Star anise has the flavor of licorice or anise and can be used for sweet or savory dishes. I found so many dishes on the net using star anise, it was hard to decide! In my enthusiasm I thought of doing an entire 4-course dinner based on star anise but the rules of this event specifically stated entering only one entry. There’s always next month…

I substituted vegetable stock for chicken stock, rice wine for the sherry and muscovado sugar for brown sugar.

Star Anise Pork
serves 6

1/2 cup vegetable stock from boullion cubes (I used mushroom broth granules)
1/4 cup rice wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp tightly packed muscovado sugar
3 whole star anise pods
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
One 3-pound boneless pork shoulder, tied
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

Mix together the rice wine, soy sauce, muscovado sugar, star anise, garlic and five-spice powder.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Browned all over on medium high heat for about 15 minutes. Add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole. Cover tightly and cook over low heat for about 3 hours, turning the roast every 30 minutes, until very tender. Add water if the sauce begins to dry up.

Remove the pork and boil the sauce until it is reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Discard the strings. Pull the pork into long shreds and return to the casserole.

Garnish with the cilantro and serve with either mashed potatoes, polenta, congee, in a burrito or in a sandwich with mayonaisse.


Jasmine said...

I really like the fact that you chose star anise for your spice. This recipe looks amazing.


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