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The Ubiquitous Fennel

In certain culinary circles, fennel pollen has garnered much attention as being a secret trendy ingredient. In fact, some equate this delicately flavored gold dust as an incredibly powerful spice with the zing of licorice, honey and citrus and nearly as valuable as gold dust.

Now some might ask What is the difference between fennel seeds and pollen? Well, my best answer is fennel pollen comes from the small spindly-like flowers of fennel, which is the most potent form of fennel. The pollen has an aroma and flavor of fennel, but with far greater intensity. The pollen is used as a flavoring agent that instantly amps up the taste of food.

The seeds are just that seeds, which are at the very tip of the thread like flower. Fennel seeds have been used for ages, and they not only suit a wide variety of foods but also cooking techniques. Whole, crushed, or ground fennel seeds can be combined with complimentary spices and used as a dry rub to create a flavorful crust on meat and fish when roasted, grilled or pan-seared.

The classic food pairing of fennel seeds is most notable in Italian sausage and fatty fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel. Yet, even though the fennel seed can hold its own with these dominant foods, it can also be matched well in sweet treats like cookies, cakes, or breads. And because fennel seeds are ubiquitous in the culinary world, they can be toasted, ground, or chewed raw as a breath freshener and digestive aid.You'll find that fennel is widely used in Mediterranean and Indian cuisine and has won much favor in today's American professional kitchens.

No wonder the ancient Roman's translation of fennel meant fragrant hay which is very appropriate. The slight bitterness of fennel seeds balances out the sweetness, and because it is less pungent than most spices, it has a delicate flavor. Fennel seeds and fennel pollen are typically yellowish-green in color with greener seeds being more desirable and much sought after by some of the most extraordinary chefs.

You can find fennel growing wild around dry soils near sea-coasts and on riverbanks. You cant mistake it because when you come into close proximity you can actually smell the anise-like fragrance emitting from these long yellowish flowers. Pick a few seeds and you'll see what I mean about the taste.

The freshness of fennel pollen and fennel seeds adds a beautiful flavor to dips, pasta sauces, salad dressings, condiments, and is definitely most delicious when mixed in with butter for sauteing vegetables such as carrots or mushrooms.Whether you choose fennel seeds or the pollen, you will definitely taste the freshness and magic of the sun!

For a most flavorful salad try out this fab recipe, and enjoy the taste of spring - your palette will love it!

Roasted Fennel and Cherry Tomato Salad-click link