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Calling all fennel and baby bok choy lovers

Ok people. I finally picked up some baby bok choy (about 2 pounds It seemed cheap). I also picked up 2 bulbs of fennel.

I haven't cooked either, yet. However I did taste some of each raw. I wasn't impressed. The green leafy part of the baby bok choy seemed pretty bitter to me and the white part seemed pretty tasteless to me. The green stalk of the fennel tasted pretty much like expensive celery. The white part of the fennel tasted maybe a tiny tiny bit like licorice... maybe.

Give me some good recipes for this stuff. I don't want to be unfair. I want to cook it and will report back.

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  1. I don't cook my fennel...

    I use a mandoline to slice it REALLY thin. I then use the same blade to thinly slice green apple.

    A very simple vinaigrette is made with white wine vinegar, olive oil, chopped capers, chopped shallots, and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard (put it all in a small jar and shake vigorously).

    Toss it all together and you have a GREAT salad!

    2 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      I'm not a huge fennel fan, but I do love it in a salad. I do sliced fennel, supremed oranges, kalamata olives and grilled tuna with a a bit of salt, olive oil, and orange juice squeezed from the sliced off ends of the pre-supremes orange.

      Bok Choy is pretty tasteless, but I use it as part of my leafy green rotation, stir fried. It bulks it up and carries the flavor of the sauce or other ingredients. It gives me a break from my main three greens -- chard, kale, and spinach.

      1. re: maxie

        maxie, that is a super salad -- though i don't use the tuna (which sounds like a great match for the other flavors in the salad).

        hank, it is now citrus season, so try maxie's shaved fennel salad, and use some beautiful blood oranges or navels.

    2. From my experience Baby Bok Choy will take on the flavors of whatever you cook it in. I usually stir-fry it with some onions, garlic, and red pepper in vegetable oil. I'll add some soy sauce or Hoisin, along with some sweet chili sauce, toward the end. It's never tasted bitter to me, but the closest I ever get to eating it without something like the above preparation is in something like Won Ton soup, where it's picking up a whole different set of flavors..

      1. Fennel I cut in quarters and roast with chicken. It can also caramelize like an onion, great with sausage. I like raw fennel. Italians serve it raw during holidays.

        Baby bok choy, use in noodle stir fry, finely chopped in egg rolls and in brothy soups. You may treat it like a swiss chard cousin. Saute with garlic, finish with lemon. Raw, no thanks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: CCSPRINGS

          Raw fennel used as an digestive after dinner is nice. Personally, I'll take a small bit of annisette for that purpose.
          As to using it in a recipe, I like to shave it thin and then supreme orange slices, make a vinagrette from the juice...a nice light salad.

        2. I'm sorry but raw fennel is just mediocre at best. I'd rather have a thin slice of cabbage or celery and I'm not that fond of celery or cabbage. At least they aren't $3 per pound.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Hank Hanover

            You've tried raw fennel ONCE and you're writing it off? You certainly don't HAVE to like it, but all the fennel I've had was much more than a 'little' like licorice. No one's forcing you...... but maybe a second source or season? If you don't like licorice or anise, then forget it.

            1. re: Midlife

              I don't like licorice or anise, but I bizarrely LOVE raw fennel. As in I'll make a salad of nothing but slices of fennel dressed with a little vinaigrette.

              One of my favorite raw veggies ever -- I keep talking about cooking with it, but it never survives that long.

              1. re: Midlife

                I like licorice fine. The stuff I had didn't taste like it. My wife said she could taste it slightly. I don't think it tasted like licorice in the slightest.

                I'm only trying it because lots and lots of people on chowhound swear by it. I probably will taste test what I got again before I cook it. I am leaning toward slicing and sauteing some, braising some and roasting some. So far... I'm not impressed with how it tastes raw. It's not particularly good or bad raw. Based solely on fennel's raw taste, I wouldn't recommend it. It seems very expensive for very little taste.

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  All I'm suggesting is that vegetables are not automatically going to taste exactly the same all the time, in every season, and from every source. This could just be something with your palates, but it could also be the two specific bulbs you bought.

                  1. re: Midlife

                    It is early in the season. I may try again in a few weeks.

            2. I love baby bok choy with either black bean or oyster sauce, garlic, sauteed. Sometimes with mushrooms.

              The fennel is great in a salad with orange, and definitely has a licorice taste. Fennel is wonderful in cioppino. The simplest and best cioppino recipe is the Giada DeLaurentis one. You can make the stock and freeze it and then add the fresh seafood when you want cioppino that night.

              How much did you pay for each bulb of fennel? Around here it is at least $3.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Barbara76137

                I paid $2.98 per pound this afternoon. I got 2 bulbs. I'm sorry but I'm not sure what the total was but it seems to make sense that it was pretty close to 2 pounds. I'm in Austin, Texas.