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Fennel bulb looks really weird. From a distance, it looks like a cross between an onion and celery. But it is one nutritious and versatile vegetable that often gets overlooked.
Maybe you’re one of those people not fond of it that’s why you don’t have one in your kitchen. Yet you stumble upon recipes that requires fennel bulb. So what do you use as a fennel substitute instead?
What is fennel bulb?
Fennel bulb comes from the flowering plant species Foeniculum vulgare which is part of the carrot family. The plant from which it comes from is hardy with feathery leaves and yellow flowers. The said plant is indigenous in the Mediterranean region but has become widely available in other parts of the world.
Also known as sweet anise, fennel bulb is growing in popularity in the United States. And you don’t need to be an experienced chef to understand.
Fennel bulb has a very aromatic flavor. It has always been a favorite ingredient in Italian cuisine because it can enhance the taste of many dishes. It can be used raw and cooked. It can be added to stews, soups, salads and appetizers.
How does it taste like?
Raw fennel bulb is crunchy, just like celery. But it also has a noticeable note of licorice.
When roasted, fennel bulb loses its crunch. It caramelizes at the edges, giving it a subtle, sweet flavor. I was hooked the first time I tasted roasted fennel. I think roasted fennel bulb tastes better than a raw one.
Tips for buying and storing fennel bulb
If and when you get the chance to buy fennel bulbs, I suggest you look for those that feel heavy for their size. You should also get those with tightly packed layers. The stalks should also feel firm.
Fennel is best stored in a crisper drawer. You can also store them in the fridge provided that you put the bulbs first in a loosely wrapped plastic. However, you should consume it within a week.
Top substitutes for Fennel Bulb
But if you can’t find any fennel bulb in your area, or you simply run out of it, the following are sufficient enough to replace it:
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