Fennel: Green herb that grows from a bulb into stalks with little wispies (“fronds”) on the ends. Tastes like anise/licorice.
Okay, I had to get you a picture of this because fennel is just the weirdest-looking thing and difficult to describe. Photo from binarydreams on Flickr.
So, what you do is, you thinly slice it all up and eat it raw in salads or saute it to use in side dishes. You don’t need to take off the fronds as they don’t have too much flavor and won’t screw anything up if you leave them on.
Although it has a completely different taste, it kind of has the same application of mild green onions that you’d slice up and use the little disks for a hint of flavor. It’s never gonna be like “oh, we’re having FENNEL for dinner,” but it’s more like “oh, this ____ tastes so great thanks to this fennel.”
What fennel does taste like is anise, a spice that itself tastes like LICORICE, I mean who likes licorice? I just don’t get it. I’ve tried fennel and disliked it. People love it though. Maybe it’s wrong for me to stay away from it. You know, like, morally.
Fennel seed is also widely used in its dry form as a spice. It is often in sausage. This is the only way fennel enters my digestive system. It’s a pretty diverse spice and is used in Italian, Mediterranean, Chinese and Indian cooking. Still tastes like anise but much milder.
Availability: As far as I know, fennel is pretty easy to find on the herbs/vegetable wall at most supermarkets.