Fennel is a curious vegetable that can be perplexing to the novice cook. After lots of practice, I love to use this root vegetable because it has such an incredible flavor and can be prepared in many different ways. It can be roasted, sautéed and even used raw. Tasting of anise (licorice), the bulb can be used in recipes and also the pretty green fronds. It pairs incredible well with chicken, pork, beef, and seafood, making it incredibly versatile.
This recipe is a great way to introduce people to fennel because it is disguised into a tasty little snack. The coating on the fennel is tempura, a very light batter that is commonly used in Japanese style cooking. When making a great tempura batter, I like to use either soda water or even a ginger beer for an added zing. The best part is that the bubbles from the sodas will make the batter even lighter, which results in a crispier bite!
Fennel packs a powerful nutritional punch as well as an unmistakable flavor. Studies have shown that fennel can reduce the amount of pressure within the eye. High levels of pressure in the eyes are a warning sign for glaucoma. A balanced diet that includes fennel could reduce the chances of developing this degenerative eye disease. Fennel is definitely a vegetable that you should add to your next grocery list!
Tempura Fried Fennel with Gremolata
- 4 fennel bulbs, cut in half, core removed and julienned
- 2 cups corn starch
- 2 cups flour
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 4 to 6 cups soda water or ginger beer
- 4 lemons, zested
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped very fine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Set stovetop to medium heat and heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.
- Cut fennel into long thin strips.
- Make tempura batter by mixing flour, cornstarch and salt together in a bowl. Using a whisk, slowly start pouring in soda water or ginger beer. At first, the batter will be very thick and pasty.
- Keep adding water until a thin consistency is achieved. You should be able to dip the fennel in the batter and have it slightly sink below the surface.
- Test the batter by gently placing a piece of dipped fennel into the hot oil. If the batter is too thick, add more water. If you have made it too thin, you may add more flour and cornstarch to thicken it up. Fry the fennel in batches to ensure it doesn’t stick together and remains crunchy and crispy.
- Make the Gremolata by zesting lemons into a bowl. Add minced garlic, chili flakes, and chopped parsley. Slowly drizzle in oil until you can drizzle the Gremolata on top of your warm tempura fried fennel. Serve immediately.