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Blanching Fennel for a Salad?

TexasToast Aug 29, 2006 10:46 PM

When, if ever, would you blanche a fennel bulb for a raw, cold, salad? I mean, even if you take off the "tough outer leaves" and cut away the core (like all the recipes say), raw fennel can still be quite tough and not crisp.

Does it depend upon the type of fennel or whether it's male or female?


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  1. s
    serious RE: TexasToast Aug 29, 2006 11:02 PM

    Never heard of blanching fennel for salad..just slice it very thin. It's crisp if fresh.

    2 Replies
    1. re: serious
      TexasToast RE: serious Aug 29, 2006 11:10 PM

      I ask because some people suggest it, and I wanted to know if anyone thought it would make a better salad.



      1. re: TexasToast
        Kater RE: TexasToast Aug 29, 2006 11:48 PM

        I serve fennel salads pretty often, particularly for company and I've never blanched the bulb. Given the positive effect of blanching on some crudites, I think it's worth investigating. I'll give it try and try to remember to check in with my results!

    2. jillp RE: TexasToast Aug 30, 2006 12:42 AM

      I've blanched fennel for use in a salad and I think it's a good step. It doesn't make it too limp but does make it easier to eat.

      1. r
        rtmonty RE: TexasToast Aug 30, 2006 12:54 AM

        I'm in the "never blanched" camp. Have fixed many a fennel salad and never blanched. It's the crispness that you want in the salad. I would think that blanching would make the fennel limp or at least soft, not what I would want. Dress the salad a little early and I think it will be outstanding.

        1. c
          chef poncho RE: TexasToast Aug 30, 2006 03:33 AM

          I'll try the blanching method next time. But, usually I just toss the shaved fennel with the dressing ahead of time and have pretty good results. Add some of the fronds to the mix for a textural and flavor contrast.

          1. PBSF RE: TexasToast Aug 30, 2006 03:39 AM

            I never blanch fennel for salad. Besides changing the texture, some of the fresh licorce taste is lost.

            1. a
              Armoise RE: TexasToast Aug 31, 2006 12:22 AM

              I never blanch it, but often macerate it in fresh lemon juice and salt for 10 minutes while I make the rest of the salad. It wilts a little and is great with baby arugula that's tossed in EVOO.

              1. TexasToast RE: TexasToast Aug 31, 2006 12:53 AM

                Okay, I tried it raw and I must be using bad fennel. I took off so many outer layers, I was left with what I thought would be crisp and tender, but some parts were still tough.

                Blanching for a minute and then refreshing in ice-water didn't seem to make any difference, except for the loss of some flavor.


                4 Replies
                1. re: TexasToast
                  MMRuth RE: TexasToast Aug 31, 2006 01:58 PM

                  Did you slice it really thin? I make various fennel salads and haven't had a problem and have never blanched. But maybe, as you suggested, you just had some tough fennel - the fact that said it wasn't crisp suggests to me that your fennel might have been old. I know there is some wisdom about female vs. male bulbs - one being better raw - I'll try and find it for you.

                  1. re: MMRuth
                    TexasToast RE: MMRuth Aug 31, 2006 02:09 PM

                    Well, how thin are we talking? Razor-onion thin or like 2-3mm thickness?


                    1. re: TexasToast
                      MMRuth RE: TexasToast Aug 31, 2006 02:27 PM

                      Close to razor/paper thin - alot of the recipes I use call for using a mandoline, which I don't have, so I just do my best w/ a knife.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        TexasToast RE: MMRuth Aug 31, 2006 02:42 PM

                        Okay, I'll dig out the mandolin and see how it goes.



                2. t
                  thejulia RE: TexasToast Aug 31, 2006 09:19 PM

                  With a bit of olive oil and a very simple salad, i think mandoline sliced fennel is all right. But the absolute best fennel salad condiment is oven roasted fennel. Chop it in bite sized chunks. You can use any part, basically, except for the impossibly core/base. Toss it in olive oil, s&p, oven at 350 for awhile and it caramelizes, the anise flavor is just a bit mellowed and very complimented and the fennel itself becomes tender. It's the absolute best!

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