The Wall Street Journal had an article about this stuff. So I got some
from The Spice House in Milwaukee–my reliable Internet go-to supplier.
Lift the lid and one can smell and almost see the power of this aromatic
spice. It is described as a flavor booster. Not many of them around:
MSM, garam masala and demi glace come to mind. A library search comes
up empty, so fennel pollen is quite new. According to the WSJ, the stuff
first came to market as a digestive then into professional kitchens
where chefs discovered that it amped up umami flavors–the subtle but
deep savory notes. Its flavor combines the licorice of fennel with notes
of lemon and honey, according to the WSJ.
The Italians have used fennel pollen for years, in and on all things
pork. Veal too, as well as chicken and salmon. Pastry chefs have added
it to cookies and breads. Another spice vender says it pairs with lavender
and works in yogurt.
Magic? Fairy Dust? Stay tuned as I give it go.
I just put a teaspoon of fennel pollen in a batch of pantry cookies,
made this time with raisins, unsalted peanuts and unsweetened coconut.
I’ve given a few to friends telling them that I put an “exotic
aromatic” in the cookies and to see if they can taste and identify
it. For me: the bouquet of anise is very present as well as a faint
taste of anise or licorice. It works. Not at all off putting.