Do you know this vegetable/herb? have you seen it before? In Morocco, we call it boubal (Fr: Grande férule, férule commune, faux fenouil). In English, it's called "giant fennel" or "African ammoniacum". It's giant since it's plant grows for about 3 m long.
Having tried it, I just can't get my head around the "fennel family" thing. It tastes nothing like it. It's like a a giant hippie asparagus and it tastes more like it.
Then I've read online that despite the name, it's really not from the fennel family. Pheww..Well that should comfort me.
I took theses pictures about 3 years ago when I was in Fez where this salad is still prepared during a very short season.
The method of preparation is very much to the merfouss of fresh young broad/fava beans: steaming the vegetable, preparing a chermoula with generous addition of olive oil and sauteing the mix.
If you get hold of this weird herb/vegetable and make this boubal salad, make sure you serve it well chilled. Eat it warm or hot and you're in for a serious stomach discomfort.
Prep: 10 min - Cooking: 30 min
- 1 bunch of giant fennel (boubal, see picture above)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tbsp of sweet paprika
- 1/4 tsp of cayenne
- 30 ml of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 3 tbsps of lemon juice
- 2 tbsps of coriander, chopped
- 1 tbsp of parsley, chopped
- 1/2 preserved lemon, cut into small wedges
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Separate the florets from the stem, Wash them in cold water.
Cut each into big bits. Place them on the top of a couscoussier or a steamer but make sure the stems go in first followed by the florets. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes or until they're tender.
In a frying pan, mix all the other ingredients except the lemon juice and sauté for a few seconds, Add the boubal and break it with a spatula into the spice/herb mix. Stir for a few minutes until all liquid has evaporated. Correct the seasoning.
Set aside to cool. Mix in the lemon juice and drizzle some good olive oil.
Serve chilled, never warm or hot!
The boubal salad keeps well in the fridge for 3 days.