Saffron is the dried orange-red stigmas of a particular kind of crocus. When buying saffron, look for threads that are uniformly long and have an eye-popping color. Don’t bother with broken saffron, saffron powder, or threads that look dull and dusty. It’s not worth the cost. And this is definitely one of those spices where it’s worth it to pay more. So called “bargain” saffron is probably very old or mixed with saffron styles (another part of the crocus) or marigold flowers.
You only need a few threads to season and color an entire dish. Add them directly to a dish or steep the threads in a bit of the cooking liquid.
If you’re going for authenticity in dishes like paella and bouillabaisse, you’ve got to have saffron. There’s really no substitute. But if you aren’t so worried about exact replication and just want to approximate the yellow glow without spending a fortune, you can substitute turmeric.
What do you think of this spice?