Pickled Asian Pear Salad With Creamy Lemon Dressing

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3 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 lemon, halved

3 large Asian pears—halved, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise

1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 medium shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and cayenne pepper

4 small heads frisée lettuce (2 pounds), tender green and white leaves only, torn into bite-size pieces

4 bunches watercress (2 pounds), thick stems discarded

1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese (6 ounces)

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