[Flavor Friday] Fennel
Updated: Mar 1
What’s Fennel Seed?
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a flowering plant spice in the carrot family. Its seeds are commonly used as a spice in Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisine. It is a hardy herb with feathery leaves and yellow flowers. It is also one of the ingredients in the five-spice powder, a commonly used spice in Chinese cuisine, which is usually made up of fennel seed, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, cloves, and star anise. The plant is cultivated in temperate regions. In 2014, 60% of the world's output of fennel was produced by India, followed by Bulgaria and China.
Fennel is an inhabitant in Asia and Europe. But broadly grown in Asia and Northern India as a cold and mild climate crop. Since the 1200s, fennel has been cultivated all over Europe (especially area near the Mediterranean Sea and the Near East). Fast forward to today, India, U.S. France, and Russia. Fennel is wildly grown along roadsides and pastures.
What does it taste like?
Fennel is very aromatic with a subtle taste to its seeds. It is somewhat sweet in taste similar to the spice anise.
Commonly Used Cases
Fennel seed is usually found packaged dry in the market. It is commonly used in both savory and sweet dishes as well as tea. In addition to its culinary use, its extracted oil is used for perfumes, scenting soaps, flavoring candies, liquors, and medicines due to its strong aroma and various health benefits it brings (i.e. digestive aid, improving blood pressure, etc).
Five-spice meat, dumplings, marinated meat, bread, pho.