For the star anise-orange sauce: Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, tossing until they are golden brown, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Add the whole star anise and chile. Deglaze with the fresh orange juice. Add the ginger and sugar, stir. Reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until a syrup consistency, approximately 5 minutes. Strain into a smaller saucepan, and return to the stove. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, ground star anise and orange zest. Cook over medium-low heat until the orange zest is tender, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the butter, stir to incorporate. Season the mixture with salt.
For the flank steak: In a large, wide-based pot, heat the oil to 365 degrees F. Prepare a sheet tray lined with paper towel.
Place the cornstarch, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and half of 1 ground star anise in a bowl. Lightly dredge the flank steak slices in the cornstarch mixture in batches.
Fry the flank steak slices in batches. Remove the steak from the oil and place on a lined tray. Fry the remaining flank steak, repeating the process. Place the flank steak in a large bowl, toss with the Star Anise Orange Sauce and season with the other half of the ground star anise and salt.
To make the Orange Fennel Salad: In a bowl, add the oranges, fennel, red onion, and vinegar. Season with salt and mix well. Add the fresh mint leaves and sliced almonds just before serving.
To make the Watercress with Crispy Garlic: In a saute pan, heat the oil over high heat. Fry the garlic, tossing constantly, until golden brown, ensuring the garlic does not burn. Add the watercress and toss. Cook until just beginning to wilt, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt.