Recently the Kitchenshrink has gotten several questions about fennel pollen, an intensely aromatic flavor enhancer that has shown up on restaurant menus in the past several years. What is it? How do you use it? Where can I get some? Here’s the scope.
Fennel pollen is a golden dust brushed from wild fennel plants as they begin to bloom. It is usually harvested in Italy or California where the plant will grow abundantly. Described by food writers as “pixie dust” or a spice worthy of being sprinkled on angel wings, a pinch of it will bring an intense hit of fennel (or anise) to soups, sauces, meats, fish, or roasted vegetables. It is especially good for adding personality to carbs such as rice, potatoes, or pasta. You can find it in gourmet markets nationwide or on line at The Spice House, Zingerman’s, or the Pollen Ranch.