We have discovered the greatest fennel recipe of all time. You are going to lose your mind when you try it! Also, it is perfect for Meatless Monday…
In our continuing look at some of the unsung heroes on the culinary stage today we have a look at fennel. Fennel has so many diverse applications in the cuisines of the world it is almost mind-boggling. Fennel is used as an herb, spice, the flowers are ground into the recently hugely popular fennel pollen. Fennel is used as a flavouring agent in toothpastes and breath fresheners, it is mixed with baking soda and water to make “gripe water”, and it is even used to fight gas in the intestinal tract.
The root of the plant, the bulb, is also delicious and very versatile, it can be sliced thin and served raw in salads, braised in stews and is amazing as a roasted vegetable as well. Further, the leaves of the fennel plant are also highly prized, cooked as a side dish, used to garnish salads, and feature prominently in the traditional Eggah,the egg/pancake dish of Egypt and parts of the Middle East.
One of our favourite ways to snack on a little fennel seed is in the after dinner digestif common to Indian Restaurants, Mukwas, the irresistible and habit-forming mix of seeds and nuts and essential oils, it is both savoury and sweet, crunchy and delicious. Fennel seed is also an essential ingredient in Chinese Five Spice powder and the aromatically intoxicating Bengali spice mixture Panch Phoron:
If you haven’t cooked with fennel before, try these two simple recipes- one is a simple salad with an, at first, seemingly unusual combination of flavours, but give it a chance, it really is divine. The other recipe is probably one of the most delicious ways to prepare fennel – breaded and fried just like schnitzel. Try it soon!
Orange Fennel and Olive Salad with Red Pepper Flakes
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, reserving some of the fronds, chopped, for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup small olives, such as picholine
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper
Halve, core, and thinly slice bulb. In a bowl, toss fennel with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
Slice away peel and pith of oranges and cut flesh into segments. Add to bowl with fennel and stir in small olives, chopped fennel fronds and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt, ground pepper, and red-pepper flakes.
2 medium fennel bulbs
1 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, for dredging
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, just enough to yield about 1/4 inch in the pan
Remove tops and fronds from fennel bulbs. Slice each bulb in half widthwise. Cut each half into slices about 1/8 inch thick. Put a pot of water on to boil. Blanche fennel slices, 1 minute to soften, then shock in an ice bath. Drain and pat dry.
Pour flour into one bowl and bread crumbs into another. Season both with the salt and pepper. Whisk eggs in a third bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge fennel lightly in flour, then in egg, and then in bread crumbs, shaking off excess after each step.
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Check to make sure the oil is hot enough by tossing a small cube of bread into the oil. Seeing how fast it browns will give you a reading on the temperature.
Fry fennel slices until golden brown on each side, about 30 seconds per side, working in batches so as not to crowd pan. Drain on paper towels; season with salt and keep in a warm oven until the whole batch is fried. Serve hot with lemon wedges and aioli.