Fennel rings

Skipping through a mighty backlog of photos and notes to tell you guys about something I made last week, because… it was fennel rings. And I need to share them with the world.

We got 3 big bulbs of fennel in our last CSA box, and I was getting tired of fennel in salad, so I decided… deep fry. I was really pleased with the result, and I think I might do this with little scraps of fennel from now on.

Solution to CSA box slump.
Solution to CSA box slump.

Fennel rings! They’re like onion rings, but a little sturdier, which means more dipping sauce, which is only a positive in my world. The fennel flavor is pretty mild, but if you’re paying attention, you can taste it. And, I mean, there’s no guilt associated with eating fennel rings. It’s seasonal.

Fennel Rings

1 bulb of fennel
1/2 – 1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 – 1 cup of panko (or normal breadcrumbs)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup or more of vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Slice fennel into rings or parentheses shapes, between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thick, depending on how you prefer your fried things.

Pour out a pile of flour, a pile of panko, and a bowl with your beaten egg. Season the salt and panko with a little salt and pepper.

Dredging makes me feel like a real cook.
Dredging makes me feel like a real cook.

Time for dredging! The basic goal is to coat each piece with flour, then egg, then the breadcrumbs/panko. There are a few strategies — some people like to coat all the pieces in one thing at once, then move on, sometimes employing Ziploc bags or such. I usually do the pieces one by one — rolling it around in flour, then dropping it in the egg, then rolling it around the panko.

Heat up oil in a small saucepan with high edges to catch splatters. There should be enough oil that one layer of fennel rings could be totally submerged. The oil needs to be quite hot when it’s ready. You can test by flicking some flour into the oil, and if it sizzles immediately, it’s hot enough.

Ah, home deep frying. This made our apartment smell like fish tacos.
Ah, home deep frying. This made our apartment smell like fish tacos.

Slide a few pieces into the hot oil, but be sure that they aren’t touching or overlapping. (Fewer pieces is better than too many.) Let them fry for a minute or so. When you’re satisfied with the browning on the bottom, flip them over, and let them finish.

Remove from oil (carefully) with a slotted spoon onto a drying rack of plate with paper towels. Continue until you’re done with the batch.

Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce (BBQ sauce? aioli?).

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