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.


dogimo said...

I was going to start a food blog, but they all turned into comedy posts, and my feelings kind of got hurt a bit. It felt like the kitchen was making fun of me.

If you want a taste of the distinctive flavor of saffron, go to Zachary's Santa Cruz for breakfast. Their homefries are well-spiked with that crocus gold. Now, I likes me some saffron, but when I ordered their corned beef hash one time...whoa. That whole THING is loaded with it. It was TOO MUCH SAFFRON.

Until I realized, all I needed to do was up the poached egg ratio from 2 eggs to 3. I bust up those eggs, mix 'em all through the fried shredded mess of red shredded beef and crisped potatoes, green onion and herbs, and...the transmutes, it alchemizes the balance back to "as much DELICIOUS SAFFRON as you can take," rather than more than that.

My apologies if I'm repeating myself from before. I feel like I'm always talking about that dang Zach's hash. It's become one of my favorite breakfasts, a real go-to - but only after I reached my own wary accommodation with the potent punch of saffron it brings!

To the table, as it were.

Jen said...

Wow. Thanks for the testimonial. Zach's sounds like quite a hip place, I will have to check it out if I am ever in Santa Cruz.

dogimo said...

A little too hip, to be honest. But they don't let it interfere with the service they provide.