What to do with fennel

Fennel, both the seed and the bulbs, tend to have a licorice-y taste. If used alone, it can be a little full on, and overpower whatever it is you're making. Instead of letting fennel fly solo, I tend to use it in conjunction with its best friend: cumin. Both fennel and cumin have positive effects on digestion, and both flavours complement each other nicely. The smoky cumin adds a lovely counterpoint to the brash anise-y fennel. When eaten together, the combination is lovely, especially when combined with the bulbs of fennel plants.

I made a fennel bisque (with fennel bulbs, a bit of onion, potatoes, yucca, and fennel seeds and cumin seeds), cooked gently in coconut milk and a bit of salt and pepper. All the vegetables simmered together gently in their soup, after which I pureed everything finely. As I'm posting this, I'm sauteing off some more fennel bulb in oil, along with more cumin and fennel seeds, salt, and pepper.

The aroma is quite heady and the whole kitchen smells delicious. Once it's cooked through, I'll stir it into the bisque, so as to give textural variety to the soup. Other flavours that play well with fennel are rosemary, thyme, and sage; basically any flavour that's earthy and solid.
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