Deep Fried Fennel (Finocchi Dorati)

Fennel is a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in many ways: caramelized, in risotto, braised, as a salad, or deep fried as in this recipe. It has a nice flavor that reminds us of aniseed. The Italian way of deep frying fennel is to parboil it and then deep fry it breaded with breadcrumbs and parmigiano. Finocchi dorati are tender on the inside, crispy on the outside, and the lovely fennel flavor is accentuated. This is great as a side dish to meat such as this bone-in veal rib eye (about which I will post tomorrow). I parboiled the fennel sous-vide, but if you don’t have sous-vide equipment you can simply steam or parboil in water. The advantage of sous-vide is that no flavor is lost and that the fennel will be tender but firm to the bite.




1 or more eggs, beaten

freshly grated parmigiano



vegetable oil for deep frying



Cut the green stalks and fronds off the fennel and discard. (You can save the fronds for garnish and the greens for making stock.)

Cut the bulb in halves vertically.

Now break off the ‘leaves’ of the fennel.

Only use the large leaves, there will be some small stuff left in the center that you can discard or reserve to make stock.

If using sous-vide, vacuum seal the fennel. This is easiest in stacks of about three. Cook sous-vide for 45 minutes at 84C/183F.

If not using sous-vide, parboil or steam for about 5 minutes or until the fennel is tender but still firm to the bite.

Dry on paper towels.

Mix equal amounts by volume of bread crumbs and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Set up an ‘assembly line’. First dip each piece of fennel in flour and turn it around to coat on all sides. Shake off excess flour. Dip into beaten eggs, coating on all sides and shaking of excess egg. Finally dip into breadcrumbs, coat on all sides and shake off excess breadcrumbs. Arrange the breaded fennel on a plate in a single layer.

Allow the breading to dry for about 10 minutes, turning the fennel halfway.

Heat vegetable oil to 180C/350F. Carefully lower the breaded pieces of fennel into the hot oil.

Deep fry for a few minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Season with a bit of salt and serve as soon as possible before the crust becomes soggy.


16 thoughts on “Deep Fried Fennel (Finocchi Dorati)

  1. Like Richard before me, I, too, cannot wait to give this a try. At home, we never cooked fennel, serving it instead as one would crudités. I’ve cooked it more than a few times and this is one of those dishes I’ll prepare for Zia just to see her reaction. 🙂


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