Saffron, known as the “red gold,” is a spice that has been prized for centuries for its unique flavor, aroma, and vivid color. It is made from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus flower and has been used in many different cuisines around the world. One of the cuisines that saffron is most associated with is Spanish cuisine, particularly in the popular dish of paella.
Saffron has a long history in Spain, dating back to the Moorish occupation of the country in the 8th century. The Moors introduced saffron to Spain, and it quickly became a popular spice in Spanish cooking. Saffron is now an essential ingredient in many Spanish dishes, including the famous paella.
Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish that originated in Valencia, Spain. It is made with a variety of ingredients, including saffron, which gives the dish its characteristic yellow color and distinct flavor.
How to use Saffron
In paella, saffron is typically added to the dish early in the cooking process. The saffron is first toasted in a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil or stock to release its flavor and aroma. It is then added to the dish along with the rice and other ingredients, where it infuses the dish with its characteristic flavor and color.
The use of saffron in paella is not limited to just rice. It is also used in the sofrito, which is the base of the dish. The sofrito is made with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and other vegetables, and saffron is added to the mixture to give it its distinctive flavor.
Saffron is also used in other Spanish dishes, including soups, stews, and sauces. In some regions of Spain, saffron is even used to flavor desserts, such as saffron-infused ice cream.
While saffron can be expensive, it is an essential ingredient in Spanish cooking and particularly in the iconic dish of paella. The unique flavor and aroma that saffron brings to the dish cannot be replicated with any other spice, making it an indispensable ingredient in Spanish cuisine.