Star anise is common in many Chinese dishes, especially recipes involving pork or chicken. Also known as Chinese anise, it features the same three essential oils as the unrelated 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 of star anise is noticeably stronger than the anise seed.
Whole star anise is used in pickling and brining, marinades, and tea. Steep these pieces in milk when making ice cream or custard.