Though these potent licorice-sweet seeds look similar to caraway or cumin seeds, they are sweeter with a purer anise flavor.
Fragrant and a bit mysterious, Fennel is an ancient spice which was used in Roman kitchens, where the sweet seeds balanced big flavors like boar or venison. It’s still a flavor associated with robust Italian dishes: ragu, stuffed porchetta, salamis. Harness Italian flavors in a simple tomato sauce by adding a teaspoon of the seeds to the slow-cooking onions, or add fennel seeds to mince when making meatballs. Fennel is especially associated with fish dishes. But its anise-like flavor is also a delicious addition to soups, salads, grains and vegetables. Properly used, ground Fennel Seeds add a royal note to biscotti, candies and herbal tea. Try these ground seeds along the edge of a pork chop.
Fennel pairs well with basil, chervil, cloves, oregano, and thyme. It blends wonderfully with tomatoes, seafood, and pork.
Season pork roasts, chicken, and fish. Add to sauces, curries, and breads.
Fennel Pork Rub: Grind fennel seeds until coarse, not to a powder, and mix with equal parts salt & pepper. Use blend as a rub for pork roasts.
Candied Fennel Seeds: Add fennel seeds to a mixture of boiling sugar and water, stir until the liquid crystallizes. Remove from pot and allow to cool. Sprinkle on savory or sweet dishes to add sweetness and texture.