Broken Pieces or Ground Star Anise
Whole Broken Pieces or Ground Star Anise are practical for cooking purposes. The broken pieces will give you the same flavor at a third of the price of the hand-selected stars. The Chinese use star anise in many pork and chicken dishes, usually adding 2 to 4 stars per 4 servings.
The flavor of star anise also lends itself nicely to many fish dishes. The primary use of star anise in Chinese cooking is in its ground form, as an ingredient of Chinese Five Spice Powder. The Japanese like to burn the powder as incense in temples; you can scent your own home in the same manner.
Also known as Chinese anise, this plant features the same three essential oils as the small, more delicate anise seed. Waverly Root writes, "In putting this combination together once nature had already amply demonstrated her chemical skill; it was sheer showing off to perform the feat twice in two totally unrelated plants." The flavor is quite a bit stronger than the anise seed and is used primarily for Chinese cooking, although in the 1700's European cooking also called for star anise in fruit jams and syrup recipes.
Try infusing star anise into your next batch of home-made ice cream. You'll be glad you did.