The power of anethole in cooking: recipe of shrimps and Pastis canapés


More than one year ago, when this blog was moving its first steps, I wrote about Pastis and anethole. I have always associated the French liquor to cocktails and aperitifs, without thinking about the possibility of using it as a recipe ingredient (what a big mistake!).

Just to refresh memories, anethole is an aromatic molecule that gives anice the typical aroma. Indeed, it is found in anice and star anice seeds, but also in herbs as dill, mint, parsley, fennel and liquorice. Anethole is soluble in oils and alcohol. When Pastis gets diluted with water, it forms an opalescent emulsion (the so called Pastis effect).

In terms of food pairing, the best my mind could have conceived was the addition of anice into sweet recipes, as those for my grandpa’s biscotti or buccellato. Instead, by browsing Chartier’s book, I discovered that anethole is an excellent pairing for some fishes, as shrimps and salmon. But not only that. Anethole suits well also certain types of cheeses. Well, after having spent years in Finland, I can finally explain why the pairing dill-salmon works so well (I knew that Scandinavians are a step ahead :)).

If you want to surprise your guests (or just your taste buds) with a different appetizer, try these:

Shrimps and Pastis canapés

(Doses for 10 canapés)

  • 10 fresh shrimps

  • 50 g of cream cheese (es. philadelphia or robiola)

  • 3 teaspoons of Pastis

  • pâte à quiche

  • olive oil as needed

  • salt as needed

Make the pâte à quiche as described here. Wrap it with some film paper and let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours. Peel and neat the shrimps. Pour a bit of olive oil into a frying pan and brown the shrimps on both sides. Add the Pastis and let evaporate. Turn the flame off and set the shrimps aside.

Spread the pâte à quiche rather thin, cut it into circles with the aid of a glass and place them on a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Bake the canapés at 180 C until their surface turns golden-brown. Turn the oven off, remove the canapés and let them cool down. Spread some cream cheese on the canapés and top each of them with a shrimp. Serve the canapés lukewarm.


L. D'Ulivo, The absinthe challenge, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 2014, 406, 1815-1816

L. D'Ulivo, Solution to the absinthe challenge, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 2014, 406, 4011

F. Chartier, Taste buds and molecules, 2011, McClelland & Stewart