star anise pods

Big warming bowl of one pot vegan Mexican-inspired chilli rice for dinner.

To make the chilli:
Sauté onion in a pot until golden. Add garlic and continue frying it off until fragrant. Next, add 1 can of diced tomatoes and another can of water. Add ½ veggie stock cube and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp cumin powder, ½ tsp turmeric and ½ tsp coriander powder (can omit coriander). *Optional: add 1 clove, 1 star anise and 1 cardamom pod for extra flavour. Then add 1 can of kidney beans, 1.5 cups of uncooked rice, frozen sweet corn, peas and any other veggies you like. Keep adding/adjusting water when it starts to evaporate, to make sure there’s enough liquid for the rice to cook. Allow everything to simmer for 20-30 mins, until the rice is tender and the stew is thick. Be sure to stir it frequently, as rice tends to stick to the base of the pot. I’d really recommend using a non-stick pot if you can, to avoid messy clean-ups after!
When the rice is almost done, add 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and 2 handfuls of spinach, along with salt to taste. Enjoy!

This recipe makes 3 hearty portions.

Breaking the Habit

Performed on the night of the Waning Moon (banishing, breaking bad habits) and in the sign of Scorpio (transformation, rebirth)

Ingredients (add in this order):

  1. Rosemary (banishing)
  2. Sea Salt (banishing)
  3. Bay leaf (represents your goal & what qualities about yourself you would like to change)
  4. Star Anise pod (wishes)
  5. Anise seed (luck)
  6. Cinnamon (power/manifestation)
  7. Tiger’s Eye (self-discipline)
  8. Clear Quartz (manifestation)
  9. Moon Water (manifestation)
  10. Ocean Water (manifestation/banishing)

Other required items:

  • Small jar
  • Candle
  • Incense
  1. Light incense (I used lavender for mental clarity and peace)
  2. Write your goal/intent on the bay leaf and crush it up
  3. Add the ingredients to a small jar in order 
  4. Light candle, seal jar with candle wax, and then snuff out the candle
  5. After the wax cools, pass the jar through the incense smoke and say this incantation, in your head or aloud:
    1. “By the power of the Waning Moon and the sign of Scorpio, I call for a change within myself, to [insert goal here; mine was “to be on time and to manage important priorities and events in my life]. As I will it, so it shall be.”
  6. Set the jar in the light of the Moon overnight to charge
  7. Once charged, keep somewhere safe 
Charm Jar: Fertility and a Happy Home

You will need: 

Red Sandalwood: invoking Venus
Star Anise (ground): attraction, lust, physical coupling
Bay Laurel: wish fulfillment, luck
Raspberry Leaf: uterine health, fertility
Salt: purification
Ginger (ground): health, vitality, nausea relief
Acorns: abundance, growth, fertility
One snail shell or sea shell: snail shells represent home, sea shells represent lunar tides and menstrual cycles

Combine salt, ginger, and star anise. Layer in a jar with red sandalwood chips. Top the layers with the larger inclusions (acorns, shell, bay leaf, star anise if using whole pods).

Seal the jar and knot a ribbon around the neck, focusing your energy on fullness, health, and smiling babies.

Optional: anoint the jar with dew drops and charge it under a full moon.

Navel Orange and Anise DIY Tea Sachets  

Homemade tea sachets make a special gift for any occasion. Dried orange peel adds the pleasant twist of citrus to this tea that is flavored with star anise. Keep a few bags for yourself and package the rest in a pretty tin to brighten someone’s day.

SERVINGS: 24

TIME TO TABLE:
30 minutes prep, 1 hour drying.

INGREDIENTS:
Peel of 1 Paramount Citrus navel orange
24 teaspoons (about 1.5 oz.) loose leaf English or Scottish breakfast tea
24 star anise
48 cardamom pods
24 disposable tea sachets

PREPARATION

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Cut the orange peel into thin strips and arrange in a single layer on cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. Dry in the oven for 1 hour, or until crisp. Let cool completely.

2. Cut the orange peel into small pieces with scissors. The pieces should be small enough to fit inside the tea bags.

3. To prepare each bag, add 3 to 4 pieces of dried orange peel, 1 teaspoon of loose tea, 1 star anise and two cardamom pods. Cinch the bag at the top and tie in a knot. Store in an airtight container.

Himalayan Chai


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds or several star anise
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 12 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 ¼ inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 Tablespoons light brown sugar or honey
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons Darjeeling tea
  • 1 cup milk

 Directions

  1. Place all ingredients except the tea and milk in a pot.  
  2. Cover and boil over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the tea leaves, and set aside for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Strain the tea into teacups and serve hot.
2

Today Fresh Air producer Sam Briger interviewed Mission Chinese chef Danny Bowien

Here’s a recipe from his new cookbook: 

Chongqing Chicken Wings  

It’s well known that the sign of a great dish is its ability to silence a large group of noisy people, enraptured by what they’re eating. All you hear is slurping and crunching, silverware against plates, chopsticks clicking. When the dish in question is la zi ji, the predominant sound is a soft rustling, like dry leaves skittering across a sidewalk. It is the noise made by diners sifting through a monstrous pile of chiles in search of golden brown bits of chicken hidden in the sea of red.  

I’ve encountered versions of la zi ji, a dish most commonly traced to the Sichuan city of Chongqing, that are 95 percent chiles, 5 percent chicken. Some people balk at the idea of going to a restaurant and paying for a plate of food that is mostly inedible. To serve la zi ji at Mission Chinese, I needed to up the chicken-to-chile ratio.  

Chicken wings to the rescue.  

I’ve been pursuing the ideal chicken wing for most of my career. I’ve dabbled in all manner of elaborate wing practices. I’ve cured wings, confited them in chicken fat, smoked them, and sous-vided them. I’ve been close a few times, but I’d never really settled on a method until I spoke to a friend whose mom worked at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. The Anchor Bar is the supposed home of the original Buffalo wing. I prodded my friend, trying to get her to ask her mom for their secrets. Eventually I pried out of them that the key to a perfect chicken wing is to treat it like a French fry: parcook it, freeze it, and fry it. The freezing causes the liquid in the skin to expand and burst the cell walls, resulting in perfectly thin, crisp skin without any breading. Once I learned this technique, I never looked back.

This is how a lot of things work at Mission Chinese. We talk to people with a history of doing things right, and we learn from them. Then we consider how we can add something to what they’ve taught us, improve on it, make it our own. In this case, the addition of fried tripe to a plate of chicken wingsis giving your guests 110 percent. I like mixing proteins and layering similar textures. Here, on the same plate, you get the crackly skin of chicken wings, still juicy on the inside, as well as the crunchy chew of fried tripe. Plus the papery toughness of those chiles, which, I should mention, you don’t eat. Please stop coming to the restaurant and eating the chiles.

Note: You need to parcook the wings a day ahead, so don’t start this recipe on Sunday morning thinking you’ll have wings in time for football.

3 pounds chicken wings (either mid-joints or whole wings)

¼ cup kosher salt, plus more as needed

½ cup vegetable or peanut oil, plus 8 to 10 cups for deep frying

½ pound honeycomb tripe

½ cup cornstarch, for dredging

4 cups dried Tianjin chiles or other medium-hot red chiles, like chiles Japones

About ¾ cup Chongqing Wing

Spice Mix (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In a large bowl, toss the wings with the salt and ½ cup oil. Spread the wings out on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Bake the wings for 15 minutes, or just until the skin appears cooked but not browned. Let the parbaked wings cool to room temperature, then lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, overnight.

3. The next day, clean the tripe thoroughly under cold running water, scrubbing vigorously to remove any grit. Put in a pot, cover with cold salty water by 2 inches, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, partially covered, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 hours, until the tripe is very tender. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water, and cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, retrieve the wings from the freezer and allow them to thaw at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

5. Slice the cooked tripe into strips about ½ inch wide and 2 inches long. Set aside.

6. In a deep pot or a wok (or use a deep-fryer), heat about 4 inches of oil to 350°F. Meanwhile, pat the tripe strips dry with paper towels, then dredge them in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Working in batches, if necessary, deep-fry the wings and tripe for 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden and crispy. They should cook in about the same amount of time.

7. Meanwhile, toast the Tianjin chiles in a hot, dry wok or skillet for about a minute over high heat, stirring continuously so the chiles cook evenly. Transfer to a plate.

8. Drain the fried wings and tripe, shaking off as much oil as you can (or let them briefly drain on paper towels). Then transfer to a large bowl and dust them generously with the spice mix, tossing to coat. Add the toasted chiles and toss well. The chiles will perfume the dish, but they aren’t meant to be eaten.

9. To serve, transfer everything—aromatic chiles and all—to a serving platter and present to your awestruck and possibly terrified guests.

Chongqing Wing Spice Mix

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP  

2 tablespoons whole Sichuan peppercorns

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 star anise

2 black cardamom pods

1½ teaspoons whole cloves

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Mushroom Powder (page 299)

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

Toast the Sichuan peppercorns, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cardamom, and cloves in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring continuously until fragrant. In a small bowl, combine the toasted spices with the sugar, salt, mushroom powder, and cayenne.

In a spice or coffee grinder, grind the spice mix to a powder, working in batches if necessary. The spice mix will keep in an airtight container for about a week before losing much of its potency.

Mushroom Powder

This is the gentleman’s MSG. It’s umami incarnate, in powdered form. It makes dishes more savory, but since it’s made primarily of powdered dried mushrooms, it lacks the stigma—unwarranted or not—of MSG. You can find mushroom powder at Asian markets or online, usually from Taiwanese producers. But a slightly less potent, and less mysterious, version is easily made at home. I wouldn’t recommend making this in a large batch, as the flavor dissipates over time.

MAKES ABOUT ½ CUP

1 (1-inch) square dashi kombu ½ ounce stemmed, dried shiitake mushrooms

Toast Use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the kombu into 4 or 5 smaller pieces, then grind it to a fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder or blender. Transfer to a bowl.

Grind the mushrooms to a powder and combine with the kombu. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Like ground spices, this begins to lose its potency immediately.


Photos and recipes courtesy of Harper Collins. Photo of Chef Bowien by Alanna Hale.

PINEAPPLE SERRANO MARGARITA

Ingredients:

• 2 oz. tequila 
• 3 cubic inches of diced pineapple 
• ¾ oz. lime juice 
• ½ oz. simple syrup 
• 3 slices of serrano pepper with seeds 

Preparation:

Crush the pineapple and chili slices in the base of a shaker with a muddler. Add the cubed ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake hard and strain over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a chili and a star anise pod. 

Drink Recipe:

Wrathia’s Cursed Wine

Ingredients

(those marked with an X are needed for the Virgin version of the drink):

The Wine:

  • 2 to 3 Cups Red Wine of your choice (I recommend using a dry red wine, like Grenache.)
  • 3 cups Sparkling Wine of your choice
  • 1 to 2 of each: Lemons, Apples, Mangoes, Peaches, Oranges, and Watermelon, Strawberries, and Pitted Cherries.*
  • A shot of Peach Brandy** 
  • 2 to 3 cups Grape Juice X
  • 3 cups Sparkling Apple Juice or Water X
  • A shot of Maple Syrup** X

The Curse (Spice Syrup) **:

  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 4 or 5 Star Anise Pods
  • 2 Whole Cinnamon Sticks
  • A one inch cube of Ginger

Procedure:

  1. In a relatively small saucepan, combine your water, sugar, anise pods, cinnamon sticks, and ginger. Bring this mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, and boil it until it is reduced by about a third and has become a slightly syrupy mixture. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Let the syrup cool, and then strain it into a glass jar or small airtight container.
  2. In a large jar with a lid***, or a large pitcher with a lid, pour your red wine or grape juice, and your sparkling wine or sparkling apple juice or sparkling water. Take your oranges and lemons, half them, squeeze them into the container, and then throw the squeezed halves in. 
  3. Take your other fruits, cut them into 1-inch chunks,  and add them to the mixture. Put in berries as is. Pour about ¼ of a cup of your spice syrup into the mixture. If you want a sweeter wine, pour in more. 
  4. If you wish, add Peach Brandy or Maple Syrup.
  5. Stir to make sure everything is evenly distributed in the container.
  6. Let this sit in your fridge for about 24 hours.
  7. Serve cold, with spoons.
  8. Alternatively, bottle it up, poison your share, and down it, because you will be no tyrant’s prisoner.

Enjoy your soul being attached to the next creature that comes to life, warrior!

* Alternatively, you can use different fruits and berries that you like, or what’s in season. The fresher the fruit, the better. You don’t have to use everything on the list, or you can add more. It’s really all just preference; however, I recommend getting a decent variety of fruits and such into the wine.

**Optional, but highly recommended for an extra kick. For a no-sugar version of the Spice Syrup, you can alternatively just let the spices brew with the wine itself. This works best if you have a permeable bag that can hold the spices, or don’t mind the spices floating around when you serve it. Either way, I would toast the spices a few minutes on a pan to get the natural oils out. 

***I’d get a big jar, to be honest. Keeps the carbonation from the sparkling wine/apple juice/water in the drink.