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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:27 pm 
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Location: Pomeroy's Wine Bar
Secret ingredient: Saffron
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Last updated 05:00 09/10/2012

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Sixties singer Donovan was 'just mad about saffron' - but could you identify it in a spice line-up? Here's the inside word.

WHAT IS SAFFRON?

Saffron threads are the dried stigma (female parts) of the autumn crocus flower. There are only three stigma per flower, and these have to be picked by hand, which explains why this spice is said to be more expensive than gold. Apparently 500g of dry saffron requires 60,000-85,000 flowers, but fortunately a very small amount goes a long way, as the flavour, aroma and colour imparted are intense.

Quality saffron threads are a bright crimson/red, with no yellow streaks. Because of this unusual taste and the vibrant orange-yellow colouring it adds to foods, saffron is widely used in Arab, Central Asian, European, Indian, Iranian and Moroccan cuisines (the major supplier, globally, is Iran).

WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?

The taste defies description and there is no substitute for it. Musk and honey comes somewhere near, although that description doesn't do it justice. Suffice to say that it adds a complexity of flavour and aroma to dishes such as paella, Indian rice dishes, Moroccan couscous and tagines. When you cook with saffron, your kitchen is filled with sunshine.

WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
Any Mediterranean supply store or, better still, look on the internet for quality local product grown in Central Otago.

WHAT CAN I USE INSTEAD?
Turmeric gives a similar colour, but is completely different in every other respect. There really is no substitute for it.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food- ... nt-Saffron

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:28 pm 
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Donovan - Mellow Yellow



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:33 pm 
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GOT ANY GOOD RECIPES USING IT?

Saffron is the must-have ingredient in this fish chowder, and is not negotiable as far as I'm concerned - even a small pinch of this gorgeous spice will give any dish that distinctive sunny colour, and elevate the flavour from the passable to the sublime. Almost any fish can be used, but it is preferable to use a firm-fleshed variety.

If I have time I make my own fish stock - otherwise I use a tetra pack of supermarket stock.

FISH CHOWDER

  • 400-500g fresh fish fillet
  • 500g waxy potatoes (unpeeled weight)
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large stick celery, diced
  • 1 yellow or red capsicum, seeded and diced
  • large pinch (about ¾ tsp, loosely packed) saffron threads, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted fish stock
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste and freshly ground black pepper finely chopped fresh coriander for garnish
  • 2 tsp sumac powder for garnish

Slice the fish fillet into large dice. Peel and cut the potato into small dice, about the size of your small fingernail.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic, onion, celery and capsicum over a low heat with the crushed saffron threads until the onion softens. Stir in the prepared potato and sprinkle the flour over, stirring, and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the fish stock. Simmer, covered, until the potato is cooked, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the coconut cream, the salt and the pepper. When almost at simmer point, stir in the prepared fish fillets and allow the soup to come back to a simmer point.

Ladle into heated soup bowls. Garnish with the coriander and the sumac and serve.

Hot crusty ciabatta rolls make a perfect accompaniment. Serves 4-6.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food- ... nt-Saffron

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:44 pm 
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I use saffron in rice dishes... but in very little else.

I make "Paella Style" dishes.. they vary so I don't have a specific recipe, but generally....

Saute onions, capsicum, celery, garlic in olive oil.
Add rice and coat in flavoured oil.
Add water or stock (enough for absorption cooking the rice)
Add good pinch of saffron strands plus soaking water. (Soaked in a little boiling water prior to adding).

I add a variety of cooked fish, shrimp, perhaps chicken and/or chorizo sausage pieces.
Cook those ingredients in the same pan first so any flavours remain in the pan prior to rice etc

For special occasions I add shell fish to cook and open with the rice (Usually mussels)

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