Suitable for allergy-sufferers.
What Is It?
Fennel pollen is made from the tiny flowers that adorn wild fennel, which grows predominately in Italy. It burst onto the U.S. cooking scene in the early 1990s courtesy of a few Italian immigrants willing to share their culinary secrets, and today wild fennel grows all over the California coast, where it’s harvested by hand.
So why choose fennel pollen over the more accessible and more affordable fennel seed? If you’re asking, you’ve never experienced the pollen. Fennel seed is anise-forward, with licorice flavor dominating the profile. Fennel pollen rearranges things, bringing floral honey and citrus notes to the forefront, resulting in a sweeter, warmer profile that’s familiar yet exotic.
What Do I Do With It?
Nicknamed “spice of the angels,” it’s no surprise that some people treat fennel pollen like a precious commodity. Although it’s more expensive per ounce than fennel seed or ground fennel, a little goes a (very) long way. Between that and an ultra-long shelf life, you’re free to use it anytime you want – and in a wide variety of dishes. Like the fennel you’re used to, the pollen pairs well with pork, fish, lamb, chicken, shrimp and potatoes; use it as a rub ingredient or in a marinade or glaze. It blooms beautifully in sauces, pesto and dressings, where the honey and citrus notes can dazzle without overpowering. And a pinch added to a lemon or orange cake, quick bread or batch of muffins can scoot them over to the savory side. Feeling extra? Dust the golden yellow spice over your bacon and eggs tomorrow morning to breakfast like royalty.