It does not matter if we are faithful to the Valencian paella with its essential ingredients, or if we prefer other traditional Mediterranean rice dishes, be they paella variants or other regional specialties. The important thing is to enjoy its flavor, and a very simple trick with which we will achieve tastier results It involves saffron, that tiny ingredient with exceptional power.
As much as the food enters through the eyes, it is not because it dazzles with a bright yellow color that it will be the richest paella; the coloring or the paella seasonings have done too much damage. A good rice needs quality saffron, a very expensive ingredient but of which we only need a few grams for intense results. Of course, you have to know how to treat it well, because in addition to being valuable, it is very delicate.
Before starting to cook, we must check that the saffron we have at home or that we buy is fresh and authentic, without risk of fraud or adulteration. For this, you must always go to trusted stores and make sure that the container is well closed, well preserved, and marked with the quality certification seals, such as that of the La Mancha PDO.
Production and best before dates are also crucial; Although it does not expire, how long? older whatever, the less flavour, aroma and color it will give us. It could even leave strange or rancid undertones in the paella.
How to extract all the flavor of saffron
There is an old trick that is often repeated in homes that, however, is part of those erroneous myths that should be banished forever, that we even shared in DAP years ago: the idea that by roasting the saffron we will achieve more flavor and color.
If the saffron is of quality and fresh, we should never toast or heat it before incorporate it into paella or any other dish. As they indicate to us from PDO Saffron from La Mancha, the strands of the flower are already toasted during its production. After harvesting and peeling, the saffron is roasted in dense mesh sieves at 60-80ºC, cooled, stored and packaged for sale.
Since it is already toasted, if we toasted it again we would be spoiling. What we can do to enhance the flavor of paellas and rice dishes is very simple:
- count some 6-8 strands per person.
- grind or shred the strands in a manual neutral stone mortar or by hand wrapped in a sheet of non-adherent paper, vegetable oven type.
- Mix the crushed saffron with Hot waterwithout exceeding 60ºC (one cup, with more or less volume depending on the quantity).
- Cover with a cloth and leave cool at room temperature.
- Add this concentrated infusion to paella just after toasting the rice or at the same time as the broth or smoke
We only recommend trying to roast the saffron if our threads are very old and we do not have the possibility to buy more at that time, or to try to take advantage of the fragrance that they have left, increasing the quantities and being careful that they do not burn.
And to get a paella with more color, we must remember that it does not depend only on saffron; the sofrito, the broth and a correct cooking are fundamental to obtain that so appetizing aspect.
Pictures | iStock – PDO Saffron La Mancha
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