Fennel is an aromatic herb with a sweet anise or licorice flavor. Its taste is not very strong and the anise flavor is more aromatic. The herb is related to celery and it imparts a similar fresh-like flavor when eaten.
Fennel is one of the primary flavors in Italian sausage, and it is essential to many cuisines from around the world, including many dishes from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. It is also one of the spices found in Chinese five spice powder. All of the different parts of the herb are used in food, including fennel seeds, the bulb, the leaves and fennel flowers, which are also often called fennel pollen.
If the bulb is eaten raw, it is crisp and works well in salads; however, when it has been caramelized, it has a taste similar to a licorice candy. It can also be sauteed or grilled and eaten on its own. Fennel seeds are used as an after-dinner breath freshener and digestion aid. Fennel pollen is the most expensive type of fennel and has a strong musky anise flavor.