Every spice comes from a plant, and every plant reproduces using pollen. We’re used to associating pollen with allergies and runny noses, but many spice flavors are enhanced when their pollen is used instead.
This is especially true in the case of fennel. This perennial herb comes from the Umbelliferae family, and has been used for centuries for a wide array of uses, including cooking. A good pollen recipe will almost certainly use fennel pollen.
So what is fennel pollen? Fennel pollen is the most potent form of fennel, yet it is best at boosting the flavor of the food around it, especially meats. Good pollen recipes will be aware of this and not fooled by the powerful spice’s smell. It doesn’t take much to give a dish incredible flavor — remember, it’s essence of fennel, as pure as you can get!
In Italy, fennel pollen is also used in bread and pesto and salad, but make sure to experiment before you do the same so as not to overspice the dish! Eating fennel regularly will give you vitamin C, fiber, and lower cholesterol, but the star of your meal is your meal so just be satisfied with using fennel a lot more often. You won’t regret it.
Another good pollen recipe enhancer is dill pollen. Dill is closely related to fennel but has a distinctly different flavor. Dill pollen is the counterpoint to fennel pollen; it seems subtle and unassuming, but cooking with fresh dill pollen brings out a more intense tangy flavor. You’ll notice it as the pollen moistens and infuses its meat. Salmon is a good test subject when you’re checking out this flavor, and then you can give it a try in your egg salad. Flavor will burst from every bite with less mayonnaise and oil when you use good pollen recipes be darned.
Dill and fennel pollen are currently the most common pollen products, as pollen spices are relatively new. Luckily, it’s easy to buy pollen online in a variety of mixes or pure forms. These flavors are so good, pollen recipes are sure to pop up more and more. If you hurry, yours could be the basis of this new Foodie movement.