A Medley of Flavours!
I love Paella! To me, it stands for everything good. Seafood and specifically those beautiful red langoustines, the shellfish, saffron, and of course the rice! The combination of flavours in Paella are heavenly, but best of all is the almost melt in your mouth experience! Love, love love… 😉
Invite your friends, spread out a table with flatware, pour the wine and turn on the music, because you are about to serve absolutely delicious food. It is worth mentioning here that the use of Chorizo in the making of Paella is in fact a South american tradition, and not the authentic Spanish Paella ingredient. I have kept it here, because I know that most people love it in Paella, however if you wish to go authentic, remove it. Also Green beans are the beans of choice alongside white butter beans. I have gone with the peas here as they are my personal preference.
When talking about Paella, I find, it is a must to tap a little bit into Saffron. The world’s most expensive spice is not so for no reason! Saffron has been famous since ancient times. It has been used as medicine, food colouring, as well as for flavouring food with its distinct flavour. Saffron threads which you see and use in your kitchens are essentially the threads of the Crocus Sativus Flower, which is originally the product of Western Asia, specifically Persia. Past trade routes had spread Saffron trade to Europe and India, where aspiring merchants tried to cultivate it. Cultivation worked in Spain and despite many attempts, did not go so well in Germany, Italy and France… Nowadays Persia and Spain are the world’s largest Saffron producers. Persia being the largest.
The reason why this spice is expensive is because of its rarity, and difficulties of cultivation, as it requires specific climate and soil conditions. Even when all goes well and cultivation works, 1 acre of land filled with Crocus Sativus flowers will yield only 10 pounds of Saffron threads!!
If you are an avid user of Saffron, then it is worth investing in buying large amounts. Yet, if you are the average home user, then it is best to buy good quality Saffron in smaller amounts. With that said, to store saffron, in order for the flavours not to diminish, it is best kept in a cool, dry and dark place, in an airtight container, ideally for up to 6 months. Under these conditions, saffron will remain good for up to three years, as in it won’t go bad! Mind you, after 6 months the flavours will start diminishing, which is why, it is best to purchase small amounts if you don’t use it regularly.
As with any spice, whole is always more powerfully flavoured than ground. It is therefore, always better used as threads, rather than powder. However, if you only have access to powdered Saffron, make sure it is good quality saffron, by tasting it, as it could be mixed with ground turmeric (Kurkum) and other threads. This of course is not refering to the other time of ground saffron, which is in fact a saffron root (popular in Indian and creole cuisines) instead of the saffron threads we are talking about.
In application, Saffron threads are sometimes soaked in a liquid, mainly: water, rose water, or milk to prepare it for cooking. At other applications it could be toasted then ground before use in a recipe. Or as is the case with Paella, the threads are added straight to the cooking rice.
Let’s get right into the making of my favourite Seafood Paella.