Thursday, May 13, 2010

Featured Flavoring: Saffron

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It is harvested from the stigmas of crocus, which only produce a little bit each and have to be harvested by hand. All this I learned from exhaustive research that took me here and here.

These sites say that saffron has a distinctive flavor. I have never noticed one, except that it is maybe a little bitter, but it does seem to lend foods a nice aroma, and of course a beautiful deep yellow color. Indonesians make saffron rice (nasi kuning), which is pale yellow and is also faintly sweet because it is made with coconut milk.

The only recipe I have ever made that calls for saffron, is a Philippine chicken soup recipe that I got out of Extending the Table, the successor to the popular More with Less Cookbook. It's a simple soup calling for sauteed garlic, a little ginger, and green onions added at the last minute. I would post a recipe, but my copy of Extending the Table is temporarily lost after a recent(ish) move.

I owe the idea for this post to Dogimo, (one of my faithful food followers), who mentioned in a comment thread on his own blog that saffron is made from crocuses. I hadn't remembered that, but it seemed that someone with a food blog ought to know. Luckily, I have only exposed my ignorance in front of three people, tops. Now that I have posted about saffron, it might be fun to feature a different herb or spice every once in a while, posting a recipe with that herb or spice too. Stay tuned.