Today members of my Hudson Valley Etsy Team gathered for a picnic at the Beacon Waterfront. We planned a no fuss event where each person could bring their own plates, beverages, etc. and a dish to share. It made it easy for everyone, including those folks who weren't sure until the last minute.
This is a recipe I found 40 years ago in a Time Life cookbook: Chinese Cooking. I've been making it ever since. The first time I made them and put them on a buffet table I noticed no one was taking any. I'd put them in a crystal bowl and when I asked a guest if they'd tried them they said they didn't realize they were to eat. They thought they were marble - a decoration.
When my husband I backpacked we routinely made these for our trips. They carry so much flavor and are easy; no shells to clean up and pack out, no need to carry salt and pepper, and good nourishment.
So here's how to make them in case you want to add them to your repertoire: the basic recipe is small - I usually double or even quadruple it.
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Whole star anise or 8 sections
2 tsp. black tea (2 tea bags)
Just before serving remove the shells carefully. You can serve them whole or cut in halves or quarters.