You’ve probably heard that saffron is the most expensive spice on the planet. Don’t be put off by that fact and neglect looking at some very interesting recipes. Because saffron’s flavor is so strong, in most instances you only need a little. Saffron is the signature flavor in such seafood dishes as bouillabaisse and paella and also in this dish that features shrimp in a tomato broth served over rice. It is also the spice of choice when making risotto in the Northern provinces of Italy.
Saffron threads are actually the stigma of a particular variety of crocus. Each flower bears only 3 of these stigma,which have to be carefully harvested by hand. Somewhere around 50,000 flowers are needed to produce a single pound of saffron. After harvest, the threads are delicately roasted over carefully tended wood fires.
When buying saffron look for a bright red-orange color and threads that are slightly pliable. These characteristics are a sign of freshness, as saffron tends to darken and become brittle as it ages. Saffron is usually sold in specialty stores or in ethnic neighborhood markets. It is packaged in tiny envelopes, and as long as they remain sealed the saffron will stay fresh. I buy mine at an Italian foods market in the city closest to where I live.
PAN-SEARED SHRIMP WITH SAFFRON TOMATO SAUCE
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails can be left on).
- 3 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
- 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- pinch of saffron threads, crushed ( about 1/2 teaspoon )
- 3 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- cooked, short-grain rice for serving
1. Heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté to light golden color, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in the wine and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, then add the saffron. Simmer for 1 minute so it dissolves. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat, add fresh parsley and keep warm
3. Do not wipe out the pan. Increase heat to med-high and add the last Tablespoon of oil and butter. Once hot add the shrimp in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook till brown on one side. Turn over and cook till brown on 2nd side, and opaque throughout, 1 1/2 – 2 minutes longer.
4. To serve: in a large serving dish, make a bed of rice, top with the shrimp and sauce.
SOURCE: My Gourmet Connection