Monday, March 22, 2010
mellow yellow Monday, ruby red tuesday: Saffron
These days, I am more often at the computer than in the kitchen. But when I entertain, I like to serve the best. My guests are curious about my saffron rice.
Saffron is more expensive than gold, but you need only a few strains to produce when I produce a special pot of saffron rice. It's aroma is very unusual, and you don't need to doctor the taste with lots of other spices. I just fry up some ginger, garlic and onion. It goes nicely with curry and other mid eastern dishes.
In the past, I used to cook the cheaper version of yellow rice, using tumeric or yellow ginger. The rice turns out more yellow, and to make it more aromatic, I have to add coconut milk or suntan. In South East Asia, they call it nasi Kunic.
This info is from wikipedia.
Saffron (pronounced /ˈsæfrən/, /ˈsæfrɒn/; Persian: زَعْفَرَان; Chinese: 藏红花) is a spice derived from the dried stigma of the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant's carpels. Together with its style, the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant, these components are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and coloring agent. Saffron, which has for decades been the world's most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia.. Saffron is known as 'Kesar' in India.
Most saffron is grown in a belt of land ranging from the Mediterranean in the west to Kashmir in the east. Annually, around 300 tonnes of saffron are produced worldwide. Iran ranks first in the world production of saffron, with more than 94 percent of the world yield. Iran's annual saffron production is expected to hit 300 tons by the end of the nation's Fourth Five-Year Socioeconomic Development Plan in 2009. Other minor producers of saffron are Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco, and Italy. A pound of dry saffron (0.45 kg) requires 50,000–75,000 flowers, the equivalent of a football field's area of cultivation. Some forty hours of labour are needed to pick 150,000 flowers. Upon extraction, stigmas are dried quickly and (preferably) sealed in airtight containers.
Saffron prices at wholesale and retail rates range from US$500/pound to US$5,000/pound (US$1,100–US$11,000 per kilogram)—equivalent to £250/€350 per pound or £5,500/€7,500 per kilo. In Western countries, the average retail price is $1,000/£500/€700 per pound (US$2,200/£1,100/€1,550 per kilogram). A pound comprises between 70,000 and 200,000 threads. Vivid crimson colouring, slight moistness, elasticity, recent harvest date, and lack of broken-off thread debris are all traits of fresh saffron.