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Drunken Fennel

Drunken fennel - fennel with pastis, Thai herbs and spices and tunaI always encourage Mr Not Delia to flick through my cookery magazines and come up with some new ideas for me to try whatever he fancies. He decided he’d like Drunken Fennel, which was in the Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine’s June issue. It’s a really quick and easy recipe, and only takes 10 minutes to make. Needless to say, I didn’t follow the recipe but did my own take on it. More of that later. Meanwhile, here’s the original recipe.

Hugh Wennerbom’s recipe

Hiramasa kingfish can be replaced with gill-bled wild silver trevally, bonito or tuna. You could omit the fish and dress the salad with shaved Grana Padano.


Prep time 10 mins

Serves 8 as an appetiser


  • 2 baby fennel bulbs
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp ouzo, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 200g sashimi-grade hiramasa kingfish fillet
  • Finely chopped chive flowers and 1 tbsp salmon or ocean trout roe (optional), to serve


Shave fennel bulbs on a mandolin into a bowl. Dress fennel with lemon juice, oil and ouzo. Add parsley, season to taste, transfer to a plate. Thinly slice kingfish across the grain, toss and dress in a bowl with chive flowers and salmon or ocean trout roe, if desired. Arrange on top of fennel, serve immediately.

And now for my version. Well, for starters we couldn’t find the fish specified so I said that sashimi-grade tuna would be fine. But Mr ND found something at the sushi counter of our local supermarket which was labelled “Tasmanian salmon”. It looked more like tuna to us but even though it was expensive, being ready cut as well as a top quality import, we thought we’d give it a try anyway. I started off by preparing the fennel in the way outlined in the original recipe but found it a little bit bland. It seemed to lack umami somehow. I decided to give it an Oriental twist.


(Serves 2 as a starter)

  • 100g sashimi-grade tuna
  • 1 baby fennel bulb
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • a good glug of pastis
  • finely chopped lemon grass
  • finely shredded lime leaf
  • finely chopped red chilli
  • finely chopped coriander leaves
  • a quick blat of nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • a little bit of red fish roe for garnish (black would have looked nicer but I didn’t have any)


Slice the fennel bulb into thin slivers. Toss in oil, pastis, fish sauce and lime juice. Add finely chopped lemon grass, lime leaf, chilli, and coriander leaves. Place onto a plate. Put the sashimi fish on top and garnish. Serve immediately.

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