Foodies take note, a new trend is about to take off and it’s about pollen. No, it’s not the pollen that goes into making your honey, but rather the pollen that goes onto your fish or chicken. It’s called fennel pollen and this powerful spice will make its way into your pantry and onto your plate.
Pollen Ranch has a rich history experimenting with this peculiar spice. While all spices come from plants, such as flowers, fruits, and seeds, many don’t think about adding pollen to their dishes. The spice gained popularity in the late 90’s thanks to food writer Peggy Knickerbocker who called it “the spice that Angels sprinkle from their wings.” Master Chef of France, Chef Bernard Guilles, is credited as the founder for the unique spice blend using fennel and dill pollen. The subject then caught the interest of Rebb Firman, founder of Pollen Ranch, who experimented with various flowers and fennel plants before selling his first fennel pollen to customers.
Fennel plants have been widely used by chefs all around the world, from the stem to the bulb. Tea has even been brewed from fennel seeds where it has been used to treat bloating from digestive problems.Fennel itself is an extremely beneficial plant, as the bulb is rich with Vitamin C and fiber. But using fennel pollen has only recently gained popularity. The pollen is considered a flavor booster, and its flavor profile is similar to star anise and licorice. Oftentimes people think that it is star anise or licorice that they’re tasting and not the pollen itself. Fennel pollen is strictly used as a flavor enhancer for fish and chicken. In Tuscany, Italy, fennel pollen is often used to enhance the flavor of bread and pesto, and can be used for salads as well.
If you’re curious to try out fennel pollen for yourself, you can purchase the pollen online. There are also plenty of recipes to try, such as using fennel pollen on brisket or salmon.