Too spicy to be a marmalade, and too sweet to be a chutney recipe, this mash up is a sweet and savoury relish or pickle that celebrates the flavour of bulb fennel. It is very easy to adjust the spice level by adding the chili flakes gradually to taste, or to omit them altogether. For even more kick, finely chop some fresh chilies into the mix.
2 fennel bulbs, outer leaves removed, finely chopped (1cm dice)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
15mL (1 Tbsp) olive oil
pinch of salt
30mL (2 Tbsp) apple cider vinegar
30mL (2 Tbsp) clear honey
15mL (1 Tbsp) whole fennel seeds
15mL (1 Tbsp) chopped fennel fronds
15mL (1 Tbsp) red chili flakes (optional, see below)
If any soil is present while chopping the fennel bulb, be sure to rinse the chopped fennel in plenty of cold water. The fennel pieces float, so they can be skimmed off, leaving any soil in the water. While the fennel drains in a colander, heat the olive oil in a wide pan. When hot, add the chopped onions and stir. Then add the fennel, followed by the apples. Add a pinch of salt and sautée for four to five minutes, stirring. As the onions begin to soften, add the vinegar, and then stir in the honey. Add the fennel seeds and fronds as well as the chili flakes. Continue cooking over medium low heat until the apples and fennel soften and the liquid thickens.
Allow to cool, and then refrigerate in a sealed container at least overnight. The flavours will develop over time. It should stay fresh in the fridge for up to five days.
All of the intensity levels are adjustable in this recipe. Taste as you cook and increase sweetness or spiciness as needed. The ideal balance should be sweet, sour, and spicy with an appealing crunchiness, and featuring the anise flavour of the fennel.