Shrimp with Fennel and Garlic. A fantastic, new quick and easy way to cook shrimp!
I think that fennel is one of the most neglected and underused vegetables. Maybe its because of those big, unwieldy fronds that look sort of odd and intimidating but I just don’t see fennel bulbs flying off the produce shelves of my grocery store.
If you haven’t tried fennel, I think you’re really missing out. It has a very hard bulb with a texture somewhat like thick celery but when it’s sautéed for even a few minutes it becomes tender and slightly sweet.
And don’t let anyone tell you it tastes like licorice either. I hate, loathe, and despise all forms of licorice candy but I could start a fennel fan club. The flavor is anise which is an ingredient in licorice (or should we go old school and spell it liquorice?) but the similarities absolutely end there.
One other benefit of this dish is that like almost all shrimp recipes, it cooks in a flash.
Here’s what you need:
Shrimp, Fennel, Garlic, Olive Oil, Red Pepper Flakes, Anisette Liquor, Parsley, Salt & Pepper.
The original recipe calls for Pernod which is a fancy French anise flavored liquor. My store didn’t have any and I also wasn’t wild about committing to a $40 bottle of liquor for a recipe I’d never tried before. I opted for much more affordable Anisette Liquor but Ouzo or Sambuco would probably also be good substitutions.
Also, if you don’t want to buy a big bottle, look for those little airline sized liquor bottles. They’re perfect for recipes as they usually have just about the amount you need in one serving.
You can use both the bulb and the fronds (the green fringy parts) of the fennel. They’re both good both raw (sliced very thin) and cooked. Cut the bulb off of the stalks and fronds, cut it in half, and cut the hard core out of the middle of the bulb. Save those fronds for later.
Chop both sides of the bulb into small, bite sized pieces.
While you’re chopping, peel and finely chop 6-8 cloves of garlic. Don’t worry, the garlic will cook and mellow out quite a bit.
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and cook for 5 minutes until tender but not browned.
When the fennel has started to soften, add the chopped garlic and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Feel free to adjust the amount of red pepper to suit your taste and need for heat.
Sauté the garlic with the fennel for a few minutes adjusting the heat lower if needed to keep the garlic from getting too brown.
Add 1 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp to the pan and cook until the shrimp are vibrant pink and the edges have started to curl. Usually shrimp only take 1-2 minutes per side.
When the shrimp have cooked, turn the heat down to low and add 2 Tablespoons of anisette liquor to deglaze the pan.
Always be careful adding liquor to a pan over a hot stove – especially if you’re cooking on a gas range. Better to take the pan off the heat when you add the liquor than risk setting your eyebrows or kitchen on fire.
Add some of the chopped fennel fronds and 1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley to the pan and immediately take it off the heat. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
At this point, I didn’t think there was enough flavor from the anise liquor so I added 1 more Tablespoon to the cooked dish. If you want an extra boost of flavor, you can add wine or liquor at the very end so it will not cook off.
I served this with a fantastic couscous (recipe coming tomorrow) but you could easily substitute rice, angel hair pasta, or even crusty French bread. This was great for dinner but also really good served cold the next day so you might want to think about doubling the recipe.
This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust which the cats were nice enough to buy me for Valentine’s Day.
They’re thoughtful that way.
Here’s the recipe: