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Does Anybody Really Like Fennel?!

So, I was braising some short ribs for dinner this weekend, and thought I'd mix things up a bit by following a recipe for short ribs which included fennel.

The recipe actually asked for two full fennel bulbs sliced thinly, and their tops chopped finely. I sliced one bulb in half and just decided there was no way I was going to pollute my dish with that intense black licorice flavor.

Does anybody actually like fennel? If so, how are you using it?

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  1. Yes. I prefer it raw in salads. Dont like the cooked so much.

    1. Love it. I use it in place of celery sometimes since I'm not a fan of that. It's not at all intense, really quite delicate.

      3 Replies
        1. re: Splendid Spatula

          I love the taste of fennel and prefer to replace 50% of the celery in mirepoix with fennel when I prepare Italian dishes.

          Ive tried to grow fennel bot I must be doing somthing wrong because I only get fronds and no bulb.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            There are different varieties of fennel out there, and they don't always produce a bulb. There are some fennels meant to be grown as an herb, for the fronds, and these don't form a bulb. Then there are other varieties grown for the bulb. That's what you want if the bulb is what you're after.

        2. Love it! Right now I'm shaving it thin to add to a salad of thinly sliced Cara Cara and blood oranges, along with thinly sliced red onions. Drizzle on some good olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and you've got a visually stunning dish, plus it's delicious.

          4 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            That is one of my favourite salads too! It is ridiculously delicious. However, I often add roasted beets, lots of cilantro and use walnut oil. I use blood oranges when i can get them. Mmmm.....

            1. re: pikawicca

              I add sliced olives to mine. Best salad ever.

              1. re: pikawicca

                A great change of pace from typical salads. Like pavlova, I also will add olives.

              2. I do! Roasted with olive oil and garlic until caramelized it looses that intense flavor and is really wonderful. Chopped and added to other aromatics (carrots, celery, onion, garlic) it is a wonderful base for braising liquid.

                1. Not me! I really dislike the flavor of black licorice across the board so nothing with that flavor appeals to me at all.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Disneyfreak

                    I detested the taste of black licorice as a kid, but now I actually really like it,

                    And I also now like or even love the taste of fennel, anise, and also like sazaracs, or drinks that have anise in it or rather drinks that are anise-accented.

                    so yeah, i really do like fennel.

                  2. I love fennel. Beyond love it. It is, unfortunately, rather expensive where I am so I don't have it often. I enjoy it slice thin raw in salads or wedged raw tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and maybe some lemon, or roasted with garlic, salt and pepper. I have made a fennel soup with great success as well or tomato and fennel soup.

                    1. Love it raw, sautéed, roasted.... you name it.

                      In fact, I made a fennel salad two days in a row b/c it was so bloody fantastic: 2-3 shaved fennel bulbs, ruby red grapefruit sections chopped up, toasted walnuts & blue cheese, dressed with a walnut mustard vinaigrette.

                      I could eat that every other day.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: linguafood

                        I'm coming to your house. Love that combination... :-)

                      2. The licorice taste of raw fennel is mellowed substantially when it is simmered in a braise like with your short ribs recipe. It just has a very sweet flavor after it's cooked. Personally, I love the flavor raw as well. One of my favorites is a fennel, beet and blood orange salad.

                        Another favorite option is to roast the bulbs. Cut them in quarters and leave the core so that they don't fall apart. Drizzle with some olive oil and salt and roast in a 450 degree oven until they are tender and dark brown.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mwk

                          Love roasting the bulbs until they are golden brown too. Have you paired them with wedges of yukon gold potatoes to roast?

                          They go together so well. :) Yum.

                          www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                        2. Not in any form.... can't take that licorice flavor :(

                          1. Love it. I hate black licorice, ouzo, Sambuca, etc, but I love fennel and fennel seed (fennel pollen, too). I often use it in place of celery, and enjoy it raw, roasted, etc. Somehow the licorice flavor isn't offensive to me like it is in liqueurs and candy.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: biondanonima

                              I'm in the same camp, hate licorice but like fennel. Favorite uses are in fish stew and thinly sliced in a salad.

                              1. re: firecooked

                                Ditto! Hate licorice candy of all sorts but love fennel in cooked and raw forms. Weird or what ...

                                1. re: mrsleny

                                  Here was the only use for licorice candy when I was young: we used to sit in the balcony of theaters that had balconies, suck the candy coating off Good and Plentys and then toss the moistened licorice core down on the audience, trying to get them to stick to bald men's heads.

                                  Then we ate Junior Mints to get the licorice flavor off our tongues.

                                  Few balconies today. Shame. I now could go up and aim at my husband.

                                  1. re: rccola

                                    *snerk*

                                    never bought a box of Good & Plenty in my life -- but the black jujubes got chucked at the screen.

                                    1. re: rccola

                                      Did you know that the candy outside of Good n Plenty has cucumber as the main flavor? Supposedly, on a subconscious level, women are attracted to, and get psychologically aroused by, the combination of cucumber and licorice? (Supposedly men go for baking spices and orange peel.)

                                      From Wikipedia, "According to writer Judy Dutton and scientist David Sugarman of the Ontario Science Centre, the scent of Good & Plenty candy is one of those (with that of cucumber) that women find most alluring."

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        interesting, but yuck, about the cucumber.

                                        Does the fact that I find Good & Plenty to smell vile and repulsive, and to taste even worse, mean that I'm not a woman after all, or that Judy Dutton and David Sugarman just might be making ridiculous blanket statements?

                                        1. re: JMF

                                          can't stand Good 'n Plenty, smell or taste, so...
                                          tho i do love the smell of cukes.

                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                            with you there. cuke smell is clean and fresh and sexy. G n P is yucck

                                          2. re: JMF

                                            Ummm, the article doesn't say that Good & Plenty is cucumber flavoured. It says that licorice, which is in the candy, is a scent appealing to women and that cucumber is another scent women find appealing.

                                            1. re: CanadaGirl

                                              Oh dear, I dislike both black licorice (smell and taste) and cucumber (smell is okay, does not taste good at all to me). Is that why I'm still single? Have all the good men been trying to woo me with these scents and I've gone running the other way? *sigh* ;-)

                                              1. re: laskiblue

                                                hah! laskiblue - my BF wooed me with cigarettes and grapes and condensed milk. so, there's an aroma out there for you, don't fret!

                                  2. I like it so much I grow it and I've never liked black licorice!

                                    Its great on the grill, sauteed or roasted alongside salmon, braised with chicken, raw in salads with citrus....

                                    1. I understand the flavor mellows when it's cooked, but I'm not a fan at all, so I haven't tried.

                                      1. Love it, especially raw or braised. Like others, I also detest black licorice but find fennel to be quite different. Admittedly fennel seed does not do it for me, however. Recently we had sausage with fennel seed and the seeds were all we could taste.

                                        1. Love it raw and cooked. I don't think that fennel or fennel seed taste like black licorice.

                                          1. Absolutely love it. It's a staple in the Italian culture as a post-meal digestive aide. Love it as is, and sliced thinly with just some really good olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt.

                                              1. Yes. I actually like fennel. For salad: It's a great occasion to use the truffle shaver (which otherwise doesn't get used) to shave it and some sort of firm apple thin as can be.

                                                Braised in the oven with the many winter root vegetables it is part of a one-pan meal.

                                                1. I love it cooked--especially roasted, but I don't like it so much raw. It is not the licorice taste that bothers me but a faintly fishy aroma I find it to have when raw. Weird, I know.
                                                  My favorite dish is Sicilian pasta with cauliflower, fennel capers, parsley, raisins, and sardines optional.

                                                  1. Count me in with those who love the stuff, both raw and cooked. But especially done this way:
                                                    http://leitesculinaria.com/78175/reci...

                                                    1. Yes! I add it to seafood stews (like cioppino), love it raw and cooked.

                                                      1. I love it, even though I don't like anice/black licorice. Makes no sense, I know.

                                                        If you don't like it raw, slice it and roast it with olive oil, salt and pepper at 375 for 15 minutes or so. Add grated Parmigiano on top and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes more. Delicious and not as licorice-y.

                                                        1. My husband even likes it! Enough said. Seriously we have never eaten the tops but have roasted the bulb cut into quarters or 8ths, hard center thing removed, in olive oil and s&p with potatoes cut in a similar fashion and a few cloves of garlic and it is very good.

                                                          1. love it. i love fennel salad most!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                            1. Love it! I usually eat it raw. It is great in salsa with citrus and avocado, or oranges and beets. It is also really nice as a slaw with crisp apples.

                                                              1. Fennel is great. The flavor isn't for everybody, so if you have a dislike of licorice there's nothing that can help you. My wife and I generally cut the bulb in half and slice it into "sticks" for snacking on raw. We also use it for a great roasted winter vegetable dish - toss cubes of beet, potato, carrots, and fennel with olive oil and season with anything that suits your fancy. Blast it in the oven at 450F for about an hour till everything is browned and you're in business.

                                                                1. I like to braise it and puree it with a drained can of canellini beans. Makes a wonderful dip with pitas or garlic naan.

                                                                  It's very subtle - I don;t think there any trace of licorice.

                                                                  1. I love black licorice. Fennel does not taste anything like black licorice.

                                                                    I eat fennel sauteed for breakfast, raw in salads and roasted.as a side dish.

                                                                    1. Pollute your dish??? really.... Love fennel, sliced very thin in a fresh salad, roasted with herbs and with braised pot roast.
                                                                      May I suggest you continue to experiment on youself first.

                                                                        1. It mellows as you cook it. Braise the quartered bulbs until they are tender, then spread out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with butter, then sprinkle parmesan on top and broil until the cheese browns a little.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                                            love it raw and love it cooked - one of my favorite ways to cook it is to cut the bulb from top to bottom into about six sections, par boil for about two minutes, drain, dry, and grill it with olive oil, garlc, salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and parmesan shavings, wrapped in foil, for about 10 minutes when I'm finishing chicken or something similar on the grill. i find fennel cooked right is neither strongly licorishy nor anything but mellow in flavor - can't imagine making mussel or seafood stew or soup without it.

                                                                          2. I was never a big fan until we introduced Emeril's Fennel and Green Bean Relish to our holiday tables.

                                                                            http://www.emerils.com/recipe/2627/Ro...

                                                                            This year I added brussels sprouts to the roasting pan. The natural sweetness of the veg makes it a great side dish, IMO.

                                                                            1. I love it, especially roasted at high temp under a spatchcocked chicken with carrot and onions, or in boulliabaise or eaten raw in salad.

                                                                              1. MMMmmm...love it. Growing up we always had it after dinner sliced raw, dipped in a mixture of a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. It's great on the grill too. Marinate it in the same, maybe add a little garlic. I like to slice the bulb in large slices and grill this way. The grilling makes it sweeter and it tastes great with lamb kabobs!

                                                                                1. I love fennel: a delicate flavour and, when raw, crisp and succulent. One of the most elegant flavour/texture combinations, IMO.

                                                                                  1. i do not ... but once braised, the bulbs have very little flavor at all.

                                                                                    1. I eat the bulbs raw, like an apple.

                                                                                      1. Well, it sounds like a different beast when roasted, and with a citrus salad sounds intriguing. I'll definitely have to bite the bullet and experiment.

                                                                                        Thanks all.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                          I use a mandolin to thinly slice it and then roast it with just olive oil, salt & pepper. When I used bigger pieces it seemed "tough".

                                                                                        2. Like it, bulb only, not too much. I hate licorice, if you want to know but in moderation, blending with other flavors, fennel and star anise are really nice. Bulb is nice and crunchy, too.

                                                                                          1. I *love* fennel. My favorite ways:

                                                                                            - wedges of it sauteed with wedges of red onions and garlic cloves, seasoned with a little oregano and red pepper flakes, and braised with tomatoes.

                                                                                            - as an ingredient in a fish soup (white fish, onions, tomatoes, parsley, wine).

                                                                                            - roasted wedges.

                                                                                            I also appreciate fennel as a raw ingredient in chopped salads, but I don't use it that way as often as I cook it.

                                                                                            Try the braised wedges and see they aren't mellower than you'd thought, blended with the other mediterranean flavors. It's true that when chopped up fine, the anise-y flavor is going to predominate without there being much to the vegetable itself. But fennel has a nice texture when (fully) cooked in bigger chunks -- like similarly sized pieces of cabbage or celery.

                                                                                            I've liked licorice and anise tastes since I was young -- licorice was my favorite candy -- so feel free to discount my opinion appropriately.

                                                                                            1. I love it, too...in fact, I grow it! Where would porchetta be without fennel?

                                                                                              1. Neil Perry has a great recipe for what he calls (probably not correctly) Italian coleslaw which is half a cabbage, two large bulbs of fennel and parmessan dressed with 2 parts oil to one part balsamic. Absolutely fantastic

                                                                                                1. Yes. I recently used a couple of bulbs in a seafood stew (cioppino, which someone already mentioned), and two nights ago I made a fennel gratin using 4 bulbs of thinly sliced fennel, stock, some cream, the fennel fronds, and pancetta layered on top.

                                                                                                  Ms. FH doesn't like black licorice taste, so we've never tried a salad, but when cooked it mellows, and she's enjoyed it.

                                                                                                  1. Yes! Sauteed with onions. Fennel is a dioecious plant. Male plants have a round bulbous base. Female plants resemble celery, and are supposedly less pungent.

                                                                                                    1. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables. I especially like it in tomato based soups and I do find it helps to thicken the soup. It softens in flavour when cooked. Also very good sliced thin on a mandoline with a viniagrette dressing.

                                                                                                      1. I love it, though for salads and for seasoning you really need two different varieties. Sweet cultivated fennel is light on the anise flavor, and it's what they put in salads in Italy; wild is the sort that's good for adding fronds to court-bouillon, and it's what we used to have growing in a backyard bed until the fennel-hating Mrs. O decreed that it had to go. The bulb of wild fennel is pretty strong in flavor and too fibrous to eat anyway.

                                                                                                        1. Seafood!

                                                                                                          Use the fronds instead of dill on grilled fish.

                                                                                                          Use sliced in shellfish stock; lobster, fish etc.

                                                                                                          Use it sliced thin in seafood risotto.

                                                                                                          It gives an unusually clean aftertaste when cooked in these.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                            I was just going to add this, too. I like using the fronds inside whole fish along with lemon slices. And in seafood risotto? Wonderful.

                                                                                                          2. yes, either cooked or raw. Its delish.

                                                                                                            1. No, I don't care for it at all, or anything that tastes similar, so no anise, fennel, tarragon, or even basil for me. To me it's like throwing Good N' Plentys in your food. Ack.

                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                I would never associate fennel with tarragon or basil as they taste vastly different from one another to my palate. Interesting observation.

                                                                                                                1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                  Basil, especially Thai, has an anise like taste. For some reason I don't use tarragon and cannot remember it except for vague dislike.

                                                                                                                  1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                    Just curious (and always interested!). I don't get the anise flavour in Basil but can sort of see it in Thai basil. Tarragon is not my favourite herb but I do like it occasionally if a light hand is used.

                                                                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                      Good, fresh regular (Italian) basil also has an anise flavor--or more exactly for me, makes me think "anise" and then go, "no, no, that's the basil." I honestly cannot remember tarragon's flavor profile. I wish I could--made a chicken in wine thing and thought, "I should try tarragon in it." But had none as I've never bought it because I vaguely remember not liking it. Maybe I had a salad with too much tarragon once.

                                                                                                                      1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                        Tarragon can be unpleasant if not doled out sparingly....but in the proper quantities it can be spectacular.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          Sounds like rosemary. What exactly does tarragon taste like? (and please don't say "tarragon." Unless you have to, like if it was totally unique like cinnamon.)

                                                                                                                          1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                            Tarragon is a licorice-y taste, but with a deeper and more aromatic note than fennel. It's just outstanding in chicken salad (if, as others have noted, used lightly).

                                                                                                                            It's the thing that turns hollandaise into bearnaise.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                              Also amazing in a grapefruit tarragon vinaigrette.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                Thanks so much. I believe I rejected it when I just couldn't stand even a whiff of licorice flavor.

                                                                                                                2. I'm another one who wouldn't eat licorice if you double-dog-dared me, but I *love* fennel, especially raw.

                                                                                                                  It plays nice with fish -- a friend of our made baked fish on a bed of sliced fennel and cherry tomatoes, and the fish was awesome, but the braised fennel and tomatoes were awesome.

                                                                                                                  I've added pastis and absinthe to my 'acceptable' list -- I like the clean anisey flavor of these and fennel, but can't stand the thick, gooey flavor of licorice.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    Tried it a few days ago for the first time - sauteed with leeks to accompany salmon. Very surprised - very little flavor from either one. Added some of the stems to a stir fry for some crunch. Got the crunch but still not much flavor. Will try again.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      yes, agree with this. after having spent two months in Marseille, where everyone sips Ricard non-stop, i grew to appreciate pastis. still dislike black licorice.

                                                                                                                    2. Yup--love it, in all its forms. (But then, I also like black licorice, especially the salty kind.)

                                                                                                                      1. I do not like licorice but I ADORE fennel. There is an overgrown bush of it in our garden and I will sometimes just stand next to it for minutes at a time pulling off handfuls of the leaves and eating them while watering my plants! Not to mention they are a lovely addition to salads. The bulbs of course are great in a salad (I like mine with mandarins or pomegranates).

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: deraj

                                                                                                                          I will say that growing up, I really hated it... my mom would cook pasta with fennel and I just couldn't eat it. I grew into it over time and now I like it! So who knows, you may too. Otherwise, there are so many other things to eat!

                                                                                                                        2. Oh yeah. Can't have italian sausage without it. Nothing better than a thin-crust pizza with sausage crumbled over it, studded here and there with fennel seeds.

                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                                            Absolutely. You can't make pizza sausage any more perfect than by adding some fennel seeds to the mix. I'm also on board with the Porketta. I'm just finishing up some leftovers tonight

                                                                                                                            1. re: GutGrease

                                                                                                                              Fennel seeds were first added to sausage to cover bad meat.

                                                                                                                              1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                Do you have source for that?

                                                                                                                                Even if it's true, the best foods we have today are a result of preservation techniques, so I don't see that as an indictment.

                                                                                                                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                                                  It's probably true but it's also true that it was added to fresh meat after an animal was slaughtered. How many of us had ancestors dumb enough to let meat spoil first before curing it?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                                    not dumb enough -- unfortunate enough that the meat spoiled before any more was found/butchered/bought. Sometimes you ate rancid meat because it was all you had and all you were going to have for who knows how long.

                                                                                                                                    Thus salt and lots of spices to hide the flavors (no single source...just general history)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                      Yes, it was a way to help make palatable meat for long journeys, for example, but around the homestead, hog-butchering or deer hunting was a well-thought-out affair. Treating meat that had "gone off" is a different affair. BOTH were done but treating ahead was routine.

                                                                                                                                      And it was rare any other time to have enough meat at one time to go bad.

                                                                                                                                      The Native Americans who preserved meat in fat were smart--as were the British who, without necessarily adding too many spices, potted it under a layer of fat.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                                        I was referring to the Middle Ages, when meat was too expensive to have on a regular basis.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                          I respectfully withdraw. Apparently, I'm not as old as you are. =)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                            It's a popular myth that spices were used to cover up rotten meat in the Middle Ages. Medieval dishes were highly spiced to cater to the tastes of the time, as well as to show off the wealth of the host. Spices had to be imported from the Far East via the Silk Road and were astronomically expensive. A nobleman's cook who wasted expensive spice on rotten meat would have been sent to the gibbet.

                                                                                                                                            There is a small possibility fennel could have been used in such a way, because it is native to Southern Europe. Maybe. I'd have to see a credible source before I believed it. But most other spices, no way.

                                                                                                                                2. re: GutGrease

                                                                                                                                  What's Porketta? Is it a brand? An American version of the Italian pork dish? Porchetta is really big around here, being Italian-restaurant overloaded. "Ch" in Italian is pronounced "k" --but maybe you have a particularly tasty sausage labeled "Porketta?"

                                                                                                                              2. Yes, a lot of people really like fennel. And some people don't. Same with beets, liver, okra, cilantro, etc.

                                                                                                                                We love it fresh in salads and slaws, and braised, either alone or as part of a roasted veg medley. It's really quite tasty.

                                                                                                                                I do have to say that I might be with you on a short rib recipe with fennel, though. Not quite sure why it doesn't appeal to me, but I seem to think of it paired with fish or chicken. Just old-fashioned prejudice, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                                1. I love Fennel, but I do not like licorice at all.....funny how individual taste is, because Fennel dies not taste like licorice to me at all. I like it braised, in soups, in vegetable blends and in salads. I eat it regularly.

                                                                                                                                  1. Put me into the "I love it-camp". I will eat in any shape or form. As a matter of fact, yesterday I picked up a couple of bulbs to make a salad.
                                                                                                                                    But then I really love licorice too.

                                                                                                                                    1. I love it. One of my favorite recipes to make is this braised pork with fennel:

                                                                                                                                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                      It's sublime - the braised fennel becomes very mild and meltingly tender. But I love raw fennel too - the smell of fennel takes me directly to Marin, CA where wild anise grows everywhere.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: aching

                                                                                                                                        That sounds amazing, especially this time of year. One of my epicurious faves with fennel:

                                                                                                                                        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                      2. Raw for the great crunch with grilled shrimp in an orzo cold salad, throw in some feta or edamame too.

                                                                                                                                        Stir fried with rice and other crisp vegetables.

                                                                                                                                        Roasted with garlic and carrots.

                                                                                                                                        1. It is quite a different taste and I wouldn't serve to company unless I knew they liked fennel. I love it, there is a fine cooking mag recipe that uses the bulb as well as the seed. I can't wait to try it.

                                                                                                                                          http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/do...

                                                                                                                                          1. I like fennel and I particularly love fennel in a good sausage.

                                                                                                                                            1. Funny, I just bought chinese five spice powder at the grocery store. I took a whiff, and it's overwhelmingly Fennel and I couldn't bear to add it to my marinade.

                                                                                                                                              Ingredients: Anise, Ginger, Cinnamon, Fennel, Black Pepper.

                                                                                                                                              I'm going to check online and see if that's the right order, because the anise & fennel is overpowering the other ingredients.

                                                                                                                                              But I do love raw fennel after a meal and in my sausage (I am Italian after all)

                                                                                                                                              1. Probably ought to be clarified somewhere that fennel bulb and fennel seed don't taste much alike (at least IMO)

                                                                                                                                                I like fennel seed in sausage -- but it's a very different type of flavor than raw or braised fennel bulb.

                                                                                                                                                1. Sunshine has an excellent point. I do like fennel seeds, but I have never used fennel bubls -- as far as I know.

                                                                                                                                                  I have to admit that I am not an expert in spices, but I do like fennel seeds. I don't know if I would say I like fennel more than anise or star anise or cumin.

                                                                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                    Pick one up and give it a try, Chem -- I'm guessing you'll like it.

                                                                                                                                                    the first thing I tried was just eating a piece raw (don't eat the stalks - they're good for flavor, but they're tough!) -- and it was love at first bite. Braised it's just as nice, but I still prefer raw.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                      Our friend from the Marche in Italy always puts fennel in the cooking liquid for mussels. Delicious.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                                                        Same here. We picked the idea up in Italy, too, and it has stuck. :)

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                        Dumb question. Are these fennel bulbs easy to find in normal supermarkets?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                            Some places yes, some places no. Not a dumb question. I never saw it in supermarkets in the Rockies. In the Bay Area, not often in our local Safeway, but always at the Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods, Rainbow.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                                                              <but always at the Berkeley Bowl>

                                                                                                                                                              That is a name I have heard for a long time. I went to UC Berkeley for my education, but it was only the very last two years that I was made aware of the Berkeley Bowl. A very interesting place which seemed to have almost any kind of vegetables. :) The selection was just huge.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rccola

                                                                                                                                                                was this a long time ago? i get it at safeways, lucky, and trader joe's (in the city and in east bay) and all the little meximarts in my neighborhood too...

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                Yep -- they look like the bottom of a bunch of celery, but paler white and a flatter oval.

                                                                                                                                                                The stalks will have a few feathery fronds attached to them -- the leaves look a bit like dill.

                                                                                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fen...

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                              I like fennel seed a lot but I can only take star anise in VERY small quantities - they are very different, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                Ditto. I am obsessed with fennel seed.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                  Tried fresh fennel for the second time. Caramelized with onion as a pizza topping with sausage. I also chopped the fronds and ate with ricotta and honey on bread. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                    double yum on the ricotta & honey prep!

                                                                                                                                                            3. I love it. My husband hated it until recently. The turning point for him happened when we could only get enormous old bulbs not suitable for salads. I sliced it finely and caramelised them the same way you would do with onions. The fennel was mixed through with cooked beans (cannelini from memory) and a given a tahini dressing. It's gorgeous and sweet when caramelised and now he asks for meals with it in cooked in all sorts of ways.

                                                                                                                                                              1. To me fennel seeds and very dark chocolate pair up pretty well.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                                                                                                  how about chocolate coating star anise. Pretty. It's good for health, too.

                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.mayanz.com/2011/01/five-wa...

                                                                                                                                                                2. Check out the COTM thread for this month, where the chicken with fennel and arak from Jerusalem is getting unanimous rave reviews.

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                      Page 179. Clementines are included as well.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. yes, love it. i find it mellows a lot during cooking. but i too like it raw, thinly sliced, with thinly sliced raw mushrooms, some orange slices, in a nice lemony vinaigrette? yum. funny, i don't like licorice tastes of any other kind. i also love it in this: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                                                    i add sliced fennel bulbs to it, in addition to the fennel seeds. it's also really good made with a white fish as opposed to the chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. They've had great fennel at Trader Joe's lately. This week used one bulb for a tomato pasta sauce that included braised short ribs, carrots, onions and rosemary. Used the second one for a salad of fennel, red onion and Navel orange with an olive oil and balsamic dressing.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I love fennel both cooked and raw - I like licorice but don't think its that intense. Hub thinks its great and is not a licorice fan. But my current fav is salad of thinly sliced fennel bulb and apple dressed with a light meyer lemon vinaigrette and topped with shaved parmesan. MMMMMMMMM

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I like it steamed or 'SV' then fine chopped and added to a 'sauce veloute' then lapped over any fish.......preferably one with white flesh.
                                                                                                                                                                          A little does go a long way though.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. this thread got me to roast the leftover fennel bulb i had with two turnips, and a butternut squash, all cut up. drizzled with olive oil, kosher salt, 425 degrees for an hour. made a salad with the roasted chopped up veggies and curly endive, in a grapefruit/walnut oil vinaigrette, with chopped fennel fronds sprinkled over the top. delish! the fennel was so sweet and caramelized....

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. I love fennel. It's great raw in salads (as so many people have mentioned) or even just in crudités. I usually eat it before I have time to cook it, but it's delicious grilled, braised -- I like it in a tomato-based sauce with olives -- or in a light gratin with breadcrumbs and parmesan for a crust.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Never had it but am interested to try...
                                                                                                                                                                                http://foodobs.wordpress.com

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Whenever I buy fennel, I strip the fronds and dry them in my fridge. So, for football playoffs today, having cooked lobster several times and ways since New Year's day, I took some of my accumulated stock, made a mixed seafood risotto made with an Italian pino grigio, and then topped off with the dried fronds of my last fennel plant. Rubbing them between my hands and mixed into my seafood. lobster risotto.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Why would anyone subject himself to buffalo wings?

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                                                    wow, great idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                    aw....buffalo wings can be a delight and have their place just as much as lobster risotto! but, i will admit, if i had to subject myself to sitting in a room full of people watching a sporting event, i'd rather come to your place.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Like others have said, it's mellower cooked and you don't need a lot of it. I once made a swordfish steak with braised fennel that was amazing. Nowadays I like it mostly raw, my family used to serve it with essentially a drizzle of salt water (freshly rinsed wtih a sprinkle of salt on it). But I get it, used incorrectly or in the wrong dish it's kind of gross- I made the mistake of trying to jazz up baked ziti by adding both fennel and fennel seed to a vegetarian version and it was just barely edible.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. A *little* late to this thread, but... apparently, I am the opposite of some of the others who have posted here.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I enjoy black licorice, ouzo, etc. I only have them on occasion, when I'm in the right mood, but when I do, I quite enjoy them. I also like fennel seed in Italian sausage.

                                                                                                                                                                                      However, I absolutely can't stand fennel bulbs! I made a classic dish of fennel baked with parmesan for almost an hour, and to me, it was not mellow at all. It was like eating hot Good & Plenties together with strong, salty cheese... a bizarre, nauseating combination. About an hour later, I was suffering all evening from intensely sharp stomach pains. Probably just a coincidence, but fennel bulb is forever associated in my mind with that whole terrible experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                      J

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables. I love it roasted - can eat it by itself but I usually make it with a mix of roasted veggies. I had it in a salad with goat cheese dressing once that was really good. Fennel apple salad, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I've chopped it up and eaten with hummus.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I really like licorice and anything licorice-flavored though, but when it's cooked I don't think fennel tastes too licorice-y.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. yes, raw and cooked, especially alla parmigiana

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I enjoy fennel in small amounts-
                                                                                                                                                                                            I liked it roasted and also pickled