Make, Jane, make!: Salmon and Fennel Fronds en Papillote


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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Salmon and Fennel Fronds en Papillote

Fennel stalks are so fragrant that it seems a waste to trim and throw them into the compost. We got some very small fennel bulbs in our CSA box this week and after saving the tiny bulbs for a dessert (will post later) I wondered what I should do with the stalks. Quite a few voices on the internet seemed to agree that cooking fish over the fennel stalks was the way to go and since wild salmon season is on, it seemed the perfect combination for dinner.

I served the salmon up with some apple-rutabaga mash and roasted mixed peppers (the peppers went straight from the freezer to the roasting pan!) and zucchini (fresh and yum from our CSA box).  It was received with mixed reviews - the kids found the smell of the fennel too strong and DH and I found that despite being fragrant the fennel taste really didn't come through in the end.

During prep, I packaged some of my salmon with just the fennel fronds and some of it sprinkled with additional fennel and dill seeds on top. The salmon with the additional fennel and dill tasted nice while the plain fennel fronds and salmon was a little bland.

To be fair, most of the internet recommendations were for roasting the salmon over the fennel stalks... but since sealing the salmon and fennel in parchment didn't produce much fennel flavour, I doubt that roasting it would do much else other than add some smoke. Maybe a different, milder fish might have produced a better result? I don't know. I think I still prefer dill and/or lemon en papillote or the classic planked salmon.

The verdict? Nice to look at but a little disappointing in the flavour forum. It's a good way to use fennel stalks, but I think I'd rather use the fronds in a fragrant pesto/stock or mixed with some ground meat in a chinese dumpling. (There's a dumpling place here that makes really nice lamb and fennel dumplings.... mmmm.) Of course, if you like your anise-flavouring on the milder side then this would be the perfect use for the much overlooked stalks.

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