Some say it’s bitter, semi-sweet, subtle, floral or honey-like. But what about you? What does saffron taste like to you? All the different feedback makes saffron a little bit intriguing.
Are you familiar with this herb? Have you tried it with a dish? I bet you have your own view on what it tastes like! Today, I’ll cook a recipe that uses saffron, and then I’ll tell you what I think it tastes like. Stick with me to find out. Curious?
What Is Saffron?
Saffron is a strongly flavored herb used in gourmet dishes. A little bit of it in your cooking goes a long way, which is good because it’s quite costly. It’s in demand in Spanish, Turkish and Portuguese cuisine, and it is a special ingredient in paella.
You’ll find it’s available in your local supermarket or online. You can buy a small sample, which is handy as I’m going to get some for the taste test later. I am going to cook the saffron with plain white rice, after many advised me to do it, so I can really savor the flavor.
How To Use Saffron Effectively
To get the most of saffron’s flavor, soak it in a teaspoon of warm water for a few minutes before adding it to your recipe. Soaking it in wine or milk is also great. This process helps to release the natural flavor so that it easily blends into your cooking.
Adding it to your recipe without soaking will result in it clumping together, so that the flavor does not spread evenly and can be overwhelmingly intense. I wonder if this is why some people find it tastes unpleasant.
Cooking With Saffron
For my taste test adventure, I chose to cook paella, as it’s a common recipe and one of my favorites. This will be the first time I’ve cooked it, and yes, I’m using a pinch of saffron.
No need to go into detail about how I cooked the recipe, but I can tell you that I followed the soaking technique I mentioned previously. I was surprised to discover that it’s the saffron which is responsible for the yellow color of the paella. And as for the taste, I just know you’re waiting for me to tell you!
It was not new to me, as I am familiar with the paella taste. I was just searching for the saffron taste when I ate it. When I finally knew that the bitter sweet but delicious flavor, that I’m so familiar with is saffron, I couldn’t help but smile. It has more of a sweet taste of a fresh vegetable. I was laughing, as saffron is not bad at all for me!
My paella was yummy enough, but not as delicious as the paella I’m used to when eating out. I often go to small eating place and so I asked the elderly cook there about why some people do not like the taste of saffron.
She said it was understandable and there were several reasons for it.
- The saffron must have been added without being soaked first.
- Too much saffron was used, so the taste was super strong.
- The saffron used was stale. Fresh saffron tastes sweet, but its sweetness fades with time.
I am not an expert on cooking but I guess her reasons make sense. You only need a pinch of saffron and it’s enough. If you’ve more saffron in stock, wait until the next recipe before using it. But who knows, right?
Before I forget, here is the paella recipe that I used for my taste test. You might be curious about that too.
Is Saffron Worth The Cost?
My one gram of saffron cost $1.50. It is expensive compared to other common spices. I have heard of fake saffron circulating, and I don’t know if mine was the real thing.
However, for me, it was worth it because:
- My one gram can go a very long way, unless I cook paella every day.
- The crocus flower is meticulously ground to become a spice.
- Its major manufacturer is in Spain, so it is usually imported.
- It has medicinal benefits.
- It gives a unique and interesting taste to the dish in small amounts, and a pleasing color that adds appeal to the recipe.
So much for saffron! For me, it’s a spice that is worth a try. We may have a different taste experience, but sometimes it takes several attempts to fully appreciate the real flavor.
Now, what do you think? Do we have the same taste? What does saffron taste like to you? Do you want to share your experience? If you do, type your comments here and we will be delighted to find out how it was for you!