20 gmbutter2parsnips (about 200gm each), cut into small cubes12large roeless scallops1 bunchEnglish spinach (about 400gm), leaves pickedTo serve:extra-virgin olive oil, chervil sprigs and ground licorice root (see note)Brioche crust70 gm(1 cup) brioche crumbs 20 gmbutter1 tbspfinely grated parmesan1 tsp eachfinely chopped flat-leaf parsley and tarragon1lemon, finely grated rind only Fennel sauce2 tbspolive oil1baby fennel bulb (about 200gm), coarsely chopped 1golden shallot, coarsely chopped500 ml(2 cups) chicken stock250 mlPernod1 tbsplemon juice, or to taste
For brioche crust, process ingredients in a food processor until a fine paste forms, season to taste with sea salt and set aside.
For fennel sauce, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add fennel and shallot and stir occasionally until tender (5-7 minutes). Add stock, Pernod and lemon juice and cook until reduced by half (8-10 minutes). Process fennel mixture in a food processor until smooth, then strain through a fine sieve (discard solids), set aside. Keep warm.
Preheat oven to 200C. Melt butter in a small frying pan over medium heat, add parsnip and stir until golden (5-10 minutes). Keep warm.
Meanwhile, blanch spinach (30 seconds), then refresh and drain. Process in a food processor, with a little water, until mixture is smooth, season to taste. Warm gently in a small saucepan before serving.
Top scallops with a little brioche crust mixture, bake on a baking paper-lined oven tray until golden (3-5 minutes). Divide spinach purée among plates, top with scallops, scatter with parsnip, drizzle with fennel sauce and olive oil, and scatter with chervil sprigs and ground licorice, to taste.
Note Ground licorice root is available from Herbie’s Spices, or select health-food stores.