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A good substitute for star anise is one which has a similar flavor profile to that of the original spice.While looking for a viable star anise alternative you should keep in mind the kind of dish you are preparing. If you are preparing a clear soup then you need to add just one or two whole star anise while cooking the stock. This is because star anise has a very strong flavor and if you put too much of it into the soup it will overwhelm the other flavors and make the soup too pungent in taste. On the other hand when you are cooking something hearty like a braised pork or beef brisket you need the warm and spicy notes of star anise to lift the flavors of the dish and make it more tasty. Here ground star anise is used that has a more concentrated flavor.