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One French word: anis, a French recipe: saumon en papillote à l’anis

A nostalgic parenthesis: do the British among you remember aniseed balls? Do they still exist? The size of a small marble, deep rusty red, but when you sucked them they became white and your tongue went rusty red instead? And when you got right to the middle after hours of work, there was the prize: a single aniseed to crunch between two incisors! My favourites when I was little.

 The French language bit:

Anis, masculine noun (l’anis) = aniseed (pronounced a-neesse, or sometimes a-neee), but you never say un anis or des anis. If you want to say one aniseed, or lots of aniseed, you say une graine d’anis, or des graines d’anis (one aniseed seed, or lots of aniseed seeds). 

Anisé = aniseed flavoured, such as all the Mediterranean apéritifs, pastis in the south of France, ouzo, raki, arak… each Mediterranean country has its version.

I bought some organic aniseed the other day, not for any particular purpose, but I have since been using it for making tisane (herbal tea), lovely, a teaspoonful with boiling water poured over it and a bit (or not) of honey. And you can eat the seeds when you’ve drunk the tea!

Aniseed is very different from fennel, or dill, or cumin, or caraway. I use it in this recipe for salmon: saumon en papillote à l’anis and it complements the fish perfectly.

You will need a piece of salmon per person. I prefer slices across a fillet (called le filet in French), not through the whole fish with the bones (called a une darne). A teaspoonful of aniseed per portion, and a little butter or cream.


  • Heat the oven to 180°
  • Prepare large squares of aluminium foil or greaseproof paper, and place a piece of salmon on each
  • Salt and pepper each portion and add the aniseed
  • Place a teaspoonful of butter or cream on top of the lot and close the papillote
  • Cook in the oven for about 12 minutes for a small portion, 15 minutes for a larger. Don’t overcook salmon, it must be moist

Serve with new potatoes and some fresh crunchy celery. Salmon always looks so lovely next to something pale green like celery or cucumber.

Bon appétit!


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

6 responses »

  1. Salmon is incredible!!

  2. sounds delicious! and perfect for my ‘eating lean meat and loads of veg/fruit’ sort of diet I’m trying to follow at the moment!!

  3. We often cook salmon fillet en papillote just with lemon juice (or white wine), a little black pepper and some fresh dill chopped on top. I hadn’t thought of anis and must try it. And yes, I had forgotten all about aniseed balls but you’ve reminded me!

  4. Oooh, once again, one of my favourite recipe. Methinks we are kindred spirits Caroline! ;)
    As a variation, I also use fennel seeds instead of aniseed. x

  5. Kindred spirits, ha ha, more like kindred stomachs! I usually use fennel, but aniseed is so much more… aniseedy, very vibrant flavour.


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