Looking to cook up a fancy meal?
Saffron is one of the most high-end spices in the world. It can give your meal a more premium feel and pack a punch of extra flavor. However, you don’t want to use a high-grade ingredient with the wrong dishes.
You’re in luck because this guide teaches you how to cook with saffron. Read on and find out more:
What Is Saffron?
Before you make saffron rice or other dishes, you must know what it is. Saffron strands come from the stamen of the crocus sativus plant. You can find these in the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and other tropic areas.
Saffron is expensive not because of the flowers or their small geographical range. It’s the brief window for them to bloom, as well as the low yield considering the human labor necessary. The saffron plant has fragile reproductive parts that require tweezers to harvest.
After the grueling stamen extraction, they must undergo drying and packaging. It will make them look like crimson petal trumpets with a yellow tendril at the end.
How Does Saffron Taste Like?
Even the most seasoned chefs in the world find Saffron’s precise flavor hard to decipher. It has a unique taste, making it one of the best spices around. Some can describe it as smokey, heady, and bright all at once.
Despite its complex flavor, Saffron complements a wide array of dishes. As said before, cooking rice with Saffron is possible. You can use this spice on pasta, vegetables, meat, and dessert.
The versatility of its flavor makes it great for both savory and sweet dishes. In some ways, Saffron has a biological similarity to vanilla. It doesn’t have to be the main actor, but it can enhance every other ingredient.
How to Cook With Saffron
The good news is that Saffron works well with almost any dish. As said above, its complex flavor serves to amplify other ingredients. If you want to play it safe, use this spice on rice-based dishes like Persian Rice or Risotto Milanese.
When cooking with saffron spice, you can pick either the threads or the powder. The former is the superior choice since it gives an indescribable uniqueness to a dish. The latter is good if you want even flavoring for the dish.
How to Crush Saffron
You’ll often see ground saffron in Persian dishes like “tahdig,” “polows,” and stews. It’s better to crush Saffron instead of buying pre-crushed packets. You can never know what’s in them, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
To start, get a fat pinch of saffron threads. Put them in a small mortar and grind them with a pestle.
After breaking the threads, add a pinch of sugar. Its abrasiveness helps make Saffron into a fine powder.
You can use salt as an alternative to sugar. However, the latter is the better abrasive. The finest chefs choose them because their impact on a dish’s final seasoning is lesser.
After grinding the Saffron, dissolve it using a couple of tablespoons of hot water. It makes the powder into an aromatic solution with a deep dusk-like hue. You can add this to a dish at any point, but it’s best to do it early to maximize the taste.
How to Add Saffron to Dishes
If your recipe involves lots of liquids with a long cooking time, it’s best to add Saffron directly. These factors help bring out the spice’s complex flavor and color without a blooming step. Toss a pinch without preparation and allow the simmering time to take hold.
To make the most out of the flavor, add the Saffron early on. It will have enough time to bloom as it simmers in the cooking liquid.
Some recipes require early dry toasting or oil toasting Saffron. This makes it more brittle in the stew.
Other Saffron Tips
Considering the price of Saffron spice, it’s crucial to use it to its highest potential. Here are some tips for you to consider:
1. How to Buy Saffron
The good news is that you need not look too hard for Saffron regardless of your location. If you find a shop selling this spice at a low price, back away. It’s unlikely to give the premium experience you’re looking for.
Instead of going to supermarkets, do your research using the internet. Look for a reputable spice shop, whether it’s online or in the real world. Ask questions since it allows you to determine the Saffron’s pedigree.
For example, Iranian Saffron is one of the highest-quality variants in the market. It’s what makes it desirable and not as accessible. If you aren’t willing to spend as much, look for Spanish and Afghan Saffron since they’re more available.
When buying Saffron, check whether it’s crimson with a subtle floral smell. Otherwise, threads with a lighter color or pale streaks mean inferior quality.
2. How to Store Saffron
Saffron’s shelf life is short, like any spice or dried herb. To maintain maximum flavor, store the threads in an airtight container. Keep it in a cool, dry area, as far away from sunlight as possible to extend its lifespan.
3. How to Release Saffron Flavor
Soak the Saffron threads in hot liquid for 5-20 minutes. Ensure that the water isn’t boiling to extract the flavor at its best. After that, add both liquid and threads to your recipe.
As the Saffron soaks, a distinct aroma will waft around your area. It’s a sign that your Saffron “tea” is ready. To add more flavor, soak it in stock or wine instead of water.
Start Cooking With Saffron Today
Learning how to cook with Saffron is a fulfilling experience. Use the tips mentioned above to ensure that you won’t waste this premium ingredient.
Are you looking for more ingredients for your meals? Want to know more healthy recipes for you and your family? Read our post for more ideas to improve your cooking skills.