In an article for Saveur, the food writer Peggy Knickerbocker wrote, "If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it." We couldn't agree more.
Anything that resembles fennel in its sweet anise flavor is a winner but fennel pollen goes above and beyond. It’s as if it takes all that is good with that subtly sweet licorice essence and makes it a thousand times better. The aroma is floral and intoxicating.
Fennel Pollen is an incredibly powerful spice, with notes of licorice, citrus, and marshmallows. The flavor lies somewhere between the muskiness of sage, the bright bite of anise and the floral delicacy and slight bitterness of saffron.
Fennel Pollen compares to fennel fronds as a rich, golden chicken stock compares to powdered bouillon cubes. It has authority and lends a confidence to dishes as if to say, this is what food should taste like. It won't save a bad recipe, but it can completely transform a good dish making it resplendent because it tastes like pure summer joy!
Fennel pollen is the most potent form of fennel, but also the most expensive part of the anise plant. The yellow pollen is picked by hand and dried to a tan or brown color with great fragrance.
Tuscan chefs traditionally use fennel pollen on pork, but modern chefs use it's unique flavor on a broad array of foods. Tomatoes, in rice, on salmon and quail and of course on pork. It makes a rich cream sauce to use with pan seared scallops.
Comments by Chefs and Foodie Gurus about Fennel Pollen:
The food writer Peggy Knickerbocker said “If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it.” (Saveur, May/June 2000)
In her book, Cook Like a Rock Star, Chef Anne Burrell calls it her “Super Secret Flavor Weapon” and uses it to crust pork chops.
Faith Willinger dubbed it as “one of the most exciting flavors of central Italian cooking."
Michael Ruhlman, I consider very few ingredients “secret” but Fennel Pollen has been a game changer for chefs for years. Very potent, intense and powerful finishing devices, Fennel Pollen gives a whole range of dishes a magical pop that makes you say “wow, where did that come from?”
Health Benefits: Fennel pollen is the pollen collected from flowers on the fennel plant. Fennel and its seeds and pollen have been used as an herbal remedy for a host of aliments, including digestive discomforts, and as a purifying food for the body, beneficial for natural detoxification, and weight loss. Fennel was believed beneficial in disorders of the eye, and helpful in reducing cataracts in the elderly. In ancient Chinese medicine, fennel was used as a remedy for snakebites.