Species: Foeniculum vulgare dulce
Other names: Sweet Fennel, Lucknow Fennel, Florence Fennel, Finnochio
Appearance: Small, bright green.
Typically used: Whole, but can also be used ground
Origin: Fennel originated in the Mediterranean and today is a mainstay in India cuisine.
Flavor: Smaller, crunchier, and sweeter, and more aromatic fennel seeds. Reminiscent of anise or licorice.
Aroma: It has a sweet, fragrant aroma.
Culinary uses: Use for pastries, yogurts, desserts, or salads. Chew ¼ teaspoon after a meal as a breath freshener and to help with digestion.
Q: If I don’t have fresh fennel from the produce department, can I use the seeds instead?
A. Fresh fennel is a bulb-shaped vegetable that is wonderful in raw salads and salsas and added to soups, stir-fries and main dishes. You can certainly use the seeds to provide the flavor of fennel but you will likely want to replace the bulb with another bulky vegetable such as celery or zucchini slices.
Q: Can I use fennel in place of anise since their flavors and fragrance are similar?
A. Both fennel and anise have a similar, licorice-like flavor and aroma and can therefore be used interchangeably. Remember the flavor of fennel is not quite as strong as anise, so you may want to use a bit more. If your recipe calls for ground anise, be sure to use ground fennel instead of the whole seed.