Fantastic Fennel

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th July 2014
Fennel is the topic for the latest in a series of blogs on seasonal ingredients and their uses in some of the world’s best kitchens from food blogger and head of social media at Great British Chefs, Mecca Ibrahim. Tom Aikens-BouillabaisseWe’re fortunate that fresh fennel has quite a long season - June through to October. It's during these months that the celery-like stalks are extremely crunchy, the white bulbs are firm and juicy, and the vegetable’s leaves are at their most delicate and feathery. Because of this long summer season, fennel is frequently linked to warm, bright Mediterranean recipes. The dried seeds from fennel are available year-round and many chefs use them to flavour cured meats or sausages. You’ll also find them as a staple spice in Indian dishes. They’re a core component of a pan masala, that zingy post-meal mouth freshener. Fennel has strong aniseed flavours, with a distinct bitterness, and lemony citric sharpness. However, even though these are such big flavours, fennel tends not to overwhelm dishes.  In fact the fresh, clean bite helps to cut through heavy, fatty and rich foods. The vegetable has a long heritage as a popular ingredient. American Founding Father, Thomas Dom Chapman-Whole-Seabass-FennelJefferson was a fan and said: "There is no vegetable which equals its flavour ... I prefer it to every other vegetable, or to any fruit." Even the nineteenth century French writer, Alexandre Dumas observed: "It's not unusual to see working people with a bunch of fennel under the arm making their lunch or dinner of this, accompanied by bread." Like many liquorice-flavoured ingredients, fennel has a long tradition as a medicinal plant. Some of its benefits are strengthening the immune system, lowering blood pressure, aiding digestion and it’s even been touted as a cure for flatulence. Fennel's closest partner is fish and shellfish. So it’s no surprise that many of our finest chefs choose to pair fennel’s sharp, lemony fresh flavours with seafood or fish. Dominic Chapman‘s Grilled Sea bass with Fennel is a perfect example. The whole sea bass is Josh Eggleton-Salmon-en-Papillote stuffed with fennel, lemon and dill to give the fish a citrusy depth of flavour. To make it a perfect summer delight, the bass is served with an orange and fennel salad. Tom Aikens’ take on Bouillabaisse, the classic French seafood soup is a delight. The dish can be served in a number of ways – either in one steaming bowl or with the broth and the fish plated separately. He uses fennel to provide a welcome hit of aniseed flavour. Josh Eggleton’s Salmon en Papilotte is another great fennel and fish pairing.  The salmon is cooked in foil to ensure it is nicely marinated and doesn't dry out as it cooks. Josh takes Pernod – with its liquorice overtones to accentuate the fennel, parsley and white wine marinade. All ingredients infuse together beautifully as the fish steams in its parcel. Adam Simmonds -Lemon-parfait-fennel-ice-cream Finally, why not try experimenting by using fennel in your desserts? Adam Simmonds harnesses the raw lemony freshness of fennel in his Fennel Granita and Fennel Pollen ice cream. You’ll need to start preparations on this dessert the day before. Also make sure you prepare a stock syrup by simmering equal parts sugar and water before you start.  Adam plays with flavours of fennel and lemon to provide a glorious dessert. His ice cream uses fennel pollen which is available to buy online. For more fennel dishes from some of Britain’s leading chefs, head over to Great British Chefs fennel recipe collection. And here are some of our fennel recipes - Baked skrei cod, cassoulet of shellfish, fennel, smoked roe by Steve Groves   Cornish Crab Sandwich, Fennel, Wasabi and Crab Jelly by Rupert Rowley Lancashire Coals with Liquorice, Milk and Fennel by Adam Reid Mecca-Ibrahim Mecca is Head of Social Media at Great British Chefs. At work she is known for her chocolate desserts and boundless enthusiasm for social media. She has spent the last 10 years in community management and online marketing at some of the biggest and most innovative internet businesses out there (Yahoo, Justgiving, moo.com and Joost). She also hosts an annual food blogging competition called Nom Nom Nom.

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th July 2014

Fantastic Fennel