Badian, a spice with an astonishing shape, is very common in today's preparations. Pagès uses it in its herbal infusions for its digestive capacities and its characteristic aniseed taste.

Star anise, an eight horned spice with an aniseed taste

Origins of star anise

Originally from Southeast Asia, Badiane was first used by the Chinese people. The latter know it under various names. The most common, linked to its eight lobes, gave the Chinese name, which can literally be translated as "eight horns". This term pronounced in Mandarin "bajiao" is probably at the origin of the name Badian. The Chinese people also call the spice "coarse fodder", "great fennel" or "eight horned fennel". Its French name could also come from the Persian bādiān (" Anise ", " Fennel ").

Badiane is referred to by many nicknames. It is called "Star Anise", "Siberian Anise" or "Chinese Fennel" in Europe. Chinese anise should not be confused with its neighbour, the Japanese anise. This one is prohibited in France because it is toxic, which explains its nickname "fruit of the devil". »

Badiane was introduced to Europe by the merchant explorer and important literary author Marco Polo (1254-1324), during his travels in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was sold at a golden price at the time. This high price is explained not only by the distant origin but also because it was considered as the seed of the good star.

A rare and very expensive spice in the Middle Ages, its use developed in the West from the Renaissance onwards, thanks to its importation by the British Empire. It was from the 17th century that the badian tree was introduced in Europe to be cultivated and used by the practitioners of the time. From then on, Badiane became widespread.

In China, some believers placed a few Badiane stars on a cult object. They thought that the spice had the power to charge an element with strong vibrations. This is why dowsers, people looking for groundwater, used the Badiane as a pendulum.

Characteristics of the badian

Name: Chinese badian or Star anise

Family: Schisandraceae

Species: Illicium verum

Chinese Badian, or Star Anise, is a variety of anise, the fruit of the Chinese badian tree (Illicium verum). The badian tree is a small shrub of the Magniola family.

A tree with evergreen leaves, the badian tree gives a star-shaped fruit, with a diameter of 1 to 2 cm, with eight branches. Each branch forms an envelope, called a carpel, around a shiny seed. Its very characteristic shape explains its vernacular name of Star Anise.

The spice is usually harvested twice a year, in spring and autumn. In 2007, the production of Badian amounted to 40,000 tons. About 90% of the world' s Badian production comes from China, Jiangxi province, where it helps to develop and maintain the local economy. Indeed, the production of Badian employs more than 10 million people. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Japan and the Philippines share the remaining ten percent of production.

This fruit, picked green, is dried in the sun after maturation (it is at this time that it takes its brown-red color). It is generally used ground, crushed or in essential oils.

Uses of badian

Badian is mainly used in cooking. It has a peppery aroma and a powerful aniseed flavour that is very characteristic. For some, its taste is reminiscent of Liquorice. The aroma of whole Badian is milder than that of ground Badian. It can be found in stores in both forms. Cooks use it mainly for seasoning. It even replaces salt in their culinary creations. Indeed, its very characteristic taste perfumes ideally meats (and in particular meats with character such as game), fishes (crabs and lobsters go very well with spices). It is also used in short broths. Badian is also very successful in the preparation of cakes and other sweet treats. The Badian-Chocolate blend is as original as it is exquisite, just like the Anis-chocolate blend. Its aniseed taste also goes very well with fruits: pineapple, peach, apple, etc. Badian is a spice that pleases many palates!

In France, Badian is traditionally used for the preparation of cakes and biscuits from the southwest of the country. It is also part of many mulled wine recipes during the holiday season. In Germany, Badian flavours marmalades. This spice is often found in the preparation of aniseed drinks in the Mediterranean basin: anisette, pastis, ouzo, sambuca, etc. In this case, it is macerated with other ingredients for several months. In China, Badian is used with Sichuan pepper and cayenne peppers. This lively mixture is a preparation for stir-fried vegetables.

Badian is a spice that can also be found in infusion. It gives off powerful aromas when immersed in hot water or milk, bringing vibrant notes to beverages. The soothing properties of this spice justify its use as an infusion in the evening before bedtime.

Badiane essential oil is said to be tonic and stimulating for the body. It is generally recommended to fight against colds and coughs but also to alleviate the adverse effects of menopause or to calm rheumatism.

Benefits of badian

Badian is one of the most widely used plants in traditional medicine and phytotherapy. As seen above, it is the fruit, picked at maturity and dried, that is used in phytotherapy.

Chinese Badian is known to be able to help with difficult digestion, cough, bad breath, sleep, stress and kidney problems.



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