HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
What's your latest food project? Get great advice
TELL US

What can I do with saffron?

n
nathanac Jul 16, 2007 06:49 PM

My brother recently returned from Yemen and as a gift he brought me about a quarter of a pound of saffron. I have never seen this much in my life. I rarely cook with it because it is so expensive but now I could make a salad out of it if I wanted (just joking). I need help thinking of different recipes. PLEASE HELP!

  1. yomyb Jul 17, 2007 05:19 PM

    I recently made saffron orange butter from this recipe for grilled fish:

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

    It was great, then we used the leftover fish for a chowder....to die for ;-). Other than that, Spanish dishes are probably the easiest and most delightful way to enjoy saffron. Invite guests over for some paella...they will absolutely love you. If seafood is not an option, remember that one of the authentic paella's main ingredient is rabbit...so be creative!

    1. mrbunsrocks Jul 17, 2007 12:39 PM

      I made a delicious soup with cauliflower last night. Very tasty - fast and easy too!

      Recipe is here: http://definitelynotmartha.blogspot.c...

      1 Reply
      1. re: mrbunsrocks
        rcallner Jul 17, 2007 07:05 PM

        Say, I have a cauliflower, and some saffron, and some beautiful Walla Walla Sweet onions, and I"m wondering- cauliflower soup is delicious - I normally make it very similarly to your recipe, but with white pepper, some thyme, and a drizzle of truffle oil to finish, and no saffron. The color's pretty on your blog - did you taste the saffron?

      2. JungMann Jul 17, 2007 09:15 AM

        When I was a child, my father would mix saffron with warm milk and sugar to help me sleep. Little did I know how extravagant my warm milk was. But either way, saffron+sugar and vanilla = delicious. Try it in desserts like the pound cake mentioned below or a flan.

        Other than desserts and the obvious paella, you can revive it in hot butter which can then be drizzled over vegetables, rice or chicken. Saffron aioli is a great dipping sauce for croquettes, crab cakes or veggies or fish. Also tagines and biryanis make good use of the spice. The earthy flavor might also lend itself to a duxelles of mushrooms.

        1. n
          Nyleve Jul 17, 2007 07:10 AM

          Not to rain on your parade, but are you sure this is the real thing? In many Middle Eastern countries, they sell another type of saffron very cheaply but it totally lacks the musky flavour and intense colour of good saffron. A friend gave me a plastic baggie filled with the stuff after a trip to Israel and it wasn't good for anything at all. In the spice bazaar in Istanbul they sell cheap cheap saffron from bins outside the shop stalls and good quality Iranian saffron packed in plastic boxes inside for considerably more money.

          If you have the wrong kind of saffron you can use a whole handful of it in a dish and you may as well be using grass clippings for all the effect you'll get. Saffron - even the good stuff - has a very subtle but quite unmistakeable flavour.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve
            l
            LJS Jul 17, 2007 07:16 AM

            H-m-m, to further the idea that xnyorkr and alexaford can't taste the saffron they have, but it still has the power to colour the food-that is what happens when saffron is stale. I regret to say, but I suspect that this is what unscrupulous purveyors in both Spain and Italy do with leftover saffron, that is bundle it up to sell to unwary tourists.

            1. re: LJS
              n
              Nyleve Jul 17, 2007 09:10 AM

              It may just be stale but it really may be that other kind of saffron. I remember a fairly recent thread about saffron where someone (who?) had quite a lot of information about this bogus saffron. It isn't as deeply red as the good kind - more an orange colour - and fluffy as opposed to tiny, wiry threads. I don't know how else to describe it. When you buy the good stuff it's always packaged in either a plastic box or glass tube; it's very deep maroon and the threads are individual and wiry. The other stuff is generally sold in bulk and has a light feathery texture, yellow to orange in colour and entirely without aroma. Not sure if they are even from the same plant. Unwary tourists, for sure, buy it thinking they have found the bargain of the century. It's not.

              1. re: Nyleve
                n
                nathanac Jul 17, 2007 01:46 PM

                I see what you're getting at, I thought the same thing when he gave it to me. I said that I usually avoid using saffron because its so exspensive, but, I have used it before. This is the real deal. Full of flavor and deep red. I think I'll put it in a shaker and keep it on my table, lol! No, all of these ideas are great. I'll prob. try all of them over the next year. Do you think it will affect my skin color?

                1. re: nathanac
                  kmh Jul 17, 2007 03:45 PM

                  who knows? my mum once did weight watchers and ate so many carrots (point free) that her hands started to go orange!

                  1. re: nathanac
                    n
                    Nyleve Jul 17, 2007 04:57 PM

                    Wow - so if it's the good stuff you are one lucky person! I just made an outstanding paella on Saturday night so the flavour is still very fresh for me. Enjoy!

                    1. re: nathanac
                      s
                      soupkitten Jul 17, 2007 05:34 PM

                      every time you use a warm liquid in a recipe-- milk/cream, chicken stock, even water-- a pinch of saffron would be a hedonistic addition to the recipe (steeped in the warm liquid before adding it to the recipe), esp if not overpowered by acids, peppers, or other strong flavorings. if it is the real deal give it away as special gifts but by all means cook with it in everything while you can!

                2. re: Nyleve
                  chef chicklet Jul 17, 2007 05:19 PM

                  could it be "saffllower" I have a bunch of that too. Used it a few times, pretty color.

                3. xnyorkr Jul 17, 2007 06:31 AM

                  Maybe it's me, but I cannot *taste* saffron! I bought a teeny container of saffron from Spain. I soaked it in hot water, or added it crumbled. I added a little, I added a lot. It certainly turns everything yellow, but I detect absolutely no unique taste in my food. I bought some saffron from another source and have not tried it yet. But I don't **ever** remember tasting saffron. Is it me, or does anyone else have that problem?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: xnyorkr
                    a
                    alexajord Jul 17, 2007 06:59 AM

                    Me too - does nothing for me. And my SO came home from a trip with 2 kilos of it (literally in a trash bag). I give it away. I cook with it. I all but hand it out at Halloween. It does nothing for me. I'll never get rid of it all.

                    1. re: alexajord
                      kmh Jul 17, 2007 03:48 PM

                      at $US10,000 per kg on the retail market (at least in Australia) that is one hellofa present. I suspect, unless he's got money to spare, you didn't get the real deal.
                      sorry.
                      recently good article in sydney newspaper on how it is so expensive, what to do, and not to over use it... http://www.smh.com.au/news/interactiv...

                      i think it has a very subtle flavour, and is most noticeable when you make risotto milanese - basically a plain risotto base cooked with saffron. then you can decipher its distinct flavour.

                    2. re: xnyorkr
                      jinet12 Jul 18, 2007 04:34 AM

                      Wow, I cannot imagine not being able to taste saffron, as it has a very strong flavor...

                    3. r
                      Roland Parker Jul 17, 2007 05:12 AM

                      If you are looking for something sweet, the Scandinavians make wonderful saffron flavored sweet breads. I once had a slice of an almond and saffron filled sweet bread that was almost, but not quite, like a long danish, and was surprisingly good. I'm sure recipes abound in Scandinavian cookbooks.

                      1. rose water Jul 17, 2007 04:42 AM

                        A little goes a long way. As a general rule, I grind saffron into powder with a mortar and pestle, then add it to some hot water, at whatever ratio gets you a deep orange color.

                        Add it to ice cream, with rose water: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350037

                        Make risotto. There's a great Marcella Hazan saffron risotto recipe.

                        Make Iranian rice: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/28452...

                        Make rice pudding with saffron, +/- rose water. Top with pistachios.

                        My aunts make a stewed chicken with loads of onion and saffron. It's supremely comforting.

                        Enjoy it! And keep it in the fridge, in a ziploc bag, to keep it around longer.

                        1. k
                          KevinB Jul 17, 2007 03:51 AM

                          I'm surprised no one mentioned a bouillabaise; if you access to decent fish and shellfish, look up a recipe. Make sure you have lots of good garlic bread for dipping!

                          1. Kitchen Queen Jul 17, 2007 12:21 AM

                            Saffron/vanilla pound cake??, saffron/vanilla ice cream! Saffron hollandaise to pour over fresh asparagus. Maybe you can even freeze some. Saffron is so special and so expensive.. I'd invent a few uses, just for the specialty of it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Kitchen Queen
                              kmh Jul 17, 2007 12:49 AM

                              open a saffron shop?

                            2. rcallner Jul 16, 2007 07:56 PM

                              Saffron is brilliant - gorgeous in color, unique in taste, nasty if you use too much. I recommend grinding it in a mortar/pestle (the classic Spanish application is marble). Safrom LOVES seafood, as novelgazer points out. An easy, delicious version of a dish featuring saffron is Jamie Oliver's Seafood Tagliatelle - like so - (use GOOD seafood) - http://www.recipezaar.com/61663

                              1. kmh Jul 16, 2007 07:29 PM

                                uncanny in its timing
                                http://www.smh.com.au/news/interactiv...

                                1. Pylon Jul 16, 2007 07:24 PM

                                  paella and pilaf for all!!!!

                                  1. digkv Jul 16, 2007 07:08 PM

                                    Just look towards Spanish food which utilizes saffron like mad. Paella, etc. check out recipes from Ilan Hall on season 2 of Top Chef, he used saffron in most of his dishes that he stole from Casa Mono. Apparently his Fideos with clams was good, or should I say Mario Batali's fideos recipe. Add saffron to your rice when you cook it, add a little to your soups. Saffron gives a nice background flavor to many dishes, use it sparingly though, it's an overwhelming flavor. And as novelgazer said, seafood goes wonderfully with saffron; try poaching your seafood in saffron broths or saffron butter.

                                    1. purple goddess Jul 16, 2007 06:56 PM

                                      dye stuff.

                                      Saffron is the new black, you know.... ;)

                                      1. n
                                        novelgazer Jul 16, 2007 06:54 PM

                                        Well, my birthday is coming up. =)

                                        Actually, I've really enjoyed a couple seafood potpie/stew sort of dishes in creamy saffron broth. One at a tapas place was called Zarzuela, which google tells me is a traditional Catalan fish stew. The other was a deconstructed seafood pot pie my wife had at a little place by the ocean in Connecticut. Both were beautiful selections of shellfish, squid, and fish in that delicious rich broth.

                                        Show Hidden Posts