This recipe demonstrates how a vegetable not usually found in Japan, fennel,
can be cooked in a Japanese way.
Fennel is not a vegetable I cook very often, either. When we were first married, the apartment complex we lived in encouraged tenants to grow flowers around the buildings. Ever practical, I planted vegetables among the flowers. Tomatoes and basil were my favorites, growing on the side of our building, but fennel was an intricate and pretty background for the flowers in front. My baby/toddler daughter and I spent many happy days outdoors tending the gardens.
A few days ago, Mr. Tess bought some fennel, but didn’t cook it. I don’t remember how I used to cook fennel, so it’s fortuitous that my project-book includes a recipe. Whoever would have looked in a Japanese cookbook for a fennel recipe!
Spicy Stir-Fried Fennel and Carrot
Fenneru to Ninjin no Itame-mono
- 1 to 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large (6 ounce) fennel bulb, julienned in 2 1/2-inch lengths
- 1 large (5 ounces) carrot, julienned as above
- 2 Tablespoons dashi or water
- Sugar divided: 1 1/2 teaspoons and 1 1/2 teaspoons
- 1 Tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
- Shichimi togarashi (seven-spice powder)
- 1 Tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
- a few drops tamari
• Heat a wok and add oil. When the oil is hot, add the fennel and carrot. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are coated with oil.
• Add the dashi and 1 1/2 tsp. sugar. Cook until almost all the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add the shoyu and cook until it’s absorbed. Note: I should have cooked the vegetables a bit longer; they were still too very crunchy for my taste.
• Add the seven spice powder and sesame seeds, and give the veggies a few large stirs.
• Taste and add 1 1/2 tsp. sugar if you like. Drop the tamari onto the hot surface of the wok to burn it instantly, then toss with the vegetables. Serve hot.
To complete the meal, I made Chicken in Spicy Marinade, which is a good make ahead summer recipe. The chicken is extra tasty when it’s grilled.
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