No it’s NOT a cooking blog, #4

Somewhere around 2 years ago NewWifey(tm) made the wise decision to befriend a girl who’s family back in Spain owns a saffron farm. Within a week of befriendment, the girl gave us this:


I think I’ve posted that pic before, but who cares. Unless you own a saffron farm you’re probably never going to see 2 cups of saffron sitting on your kitchen counter, ever, ever. Ever. You’d be posting pics of it every chance you got too, if that ever happened.

Do you know how much saffron that is? It’s more saffron than I’ve ever used in my life, cumulative, by like a factor of HOLY FUCK. It’s so much saffron that I’ve even used it as garnish:


Seriously, have YOU ever sprinkled a fistful of saffron over a platter of saffron braised chicken just for the visual effect? I hadn’t either, up until  little Miss Chiquita Bonita came into our lives. I’d have had to sell my car, my watch, and three nights with my wife to even afford it. ¡Viva España!

So it is with heavy heart that I announce that after two years I’ve finally reached the bottom of the saffron barrel. There was only maybe a quarter cup left (*gasp*) when I opened it yesterday morning to use some as cologne.

Oh well. All good stigma must come to an end, I guess. Rather than despair, I decided to blow it all out on one final extravagant dish.

I was first going to use it to make Camarones al Ajillo. But then I decided I didn’t want the garlic to overpower all that ridiculously expensive floral elixir, so….

I took all the remaining saffron, toasted it lightly, then steeped it all day yesterday in warm oil. Then today I slowly poached a pound of shrimp (which I brined first) in that oil, in a bain-marie, to really get the flavors infused. While that was going I used the shells to make a shrimp stock:


The stock was then used to make a separate brown rice risotto, with shallots and baby spinach. I have a ton of thyme growing on my back porch, so I used that as the finishing accent. Then I just plated the two together, drizzling extra saffron oil around the perimeter:



One note for anyone considering chiming in here with, “My god, this guy is an idiot. Doesn’t he know shrimp shouldn’t cook for more than a minute or two? Those things probably had the texture, and taste, of a Shell No-Pest Strip after simmering that long!”

Well, ok, that first sentence is correct. But the rest?

HA! Fool! Remember your basic Phood Physics? Heat and temperature are not the same, and oil contains less heat than water of the same temperature.* You can poach things in oil for a lot longer than you can in water before they become over cooked, shrimp included. It’s like sous vide a bit, but without the annoying millennial cache.

*Try this: heat a pot of water to 130-degrees (f), and a pot of oil to the same temp. Dunk one hand in each. See which hand starts writhing in agony first. Or better yet: boil a pot of water. That’s 212-degrees (f) give or take, depending on altitude. Now heat your oven up to 212 degrees. Stick your hand in the boiling water. You lasted, what, a quarter second before needing the local Burn Unit? Now open the oven door and stick your hand in. You could practically binge watch every episode of  “Car 54, Where Are You?” (with Fred Gwynne AND Al Lewis!) on Netflix before feeling even slightly tanned. The temperatures are exactly the same, but the amount of heat contained in water is more than the amount contained in air. By a lot.

Of course, with NewWifey(tm) still away it was sadly up to me to make sure there were no leftovers. But sometimes I wish I could develop an app I’d call “Eat Me!“, which would pair hungry people with people who are looking to share their meal. Eating that entire platter, redolent of floral joy and goodness, was fantastic. But it would have been nice to brag about how I made it to someone sitting across from me. I mean, I’m in the media, so I’m an egomaniac.

On the other hand: MORE FOR ME! Woo hoo!

(Er…sorry I haven’t been having more actual adventures to regale you with. Between the excruciatingly slow elbow recovery that’s limiting what I can do, and NewWifey(tm) not being here to instigate things, pretty much all I have in my life at the moment is foodstuffs. And Homestuck. But you probably don’t want to hear about that.)

Later. Gotta go make dessert.



30 thoughts on “No it’s NOT a cooking blog, #4

  1. Holy moley – two CUPS of saffron? As in, measuring cups, and not thimbles? Even two thimbles full of saffron is pricey. I can’t fathom having that much in one place at one time. The import tax alone would be equal to the GNP for a third world country. Heck, it might not be far from the GNP for this country. To put it into the perspective most people can understand: that’s enough saffron to bribe a politician.

    For the record, next time you fix anything shrimp-centric that doesn’t involve orange or pineapple (allergies suck) I’ll take the cross-country train. You simply need to give me a week’s notice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, two CUPS. And not those rinky Asian rice cooker cups, either. Good American cups.

      To be fair (since I know she doesn’t read this blog…I hope) while it was saffron, it really was inferior grade. Pretty much the tailings which weren’t fit for sending to market. The first few dishes I cooked with it were remarkable for their total lack of saffron flavor, which is highly unusual because saffron – the stuff you pay out the wazoo for – is SO strong. Normally two full cups should last the entire cook’s life, his kid’s life, his grandkid’s life, and two more generations after that. But I ripped through two cups in under two years because I had to use literal tablespoons every time just to get a hint of flavor out of it. Honestly, the only thing the REALLY tasted of saffron was this damn shrimp dish – and that took a quarter cup to pull off!

      Hey, you show up any time and I’ll buy you shrimp. No need for you to wait for me to have some on hand. I’ll even buy GOOD saffron for the occasion 🙂


              1. Cod forbid.

                Hey, I’m at work and it’s getting busy. It’s been finny 🙂

                I’ll just leave you with these:

                There are two fish in a tank. One says to the other, “You steer, I’ll fire the gun.”

                Where do you find the most fish? Between the head and the tail.

                What did the fish say when it swam into a wall? “Dam!”

                Finally, I’ve got this great t-shirt that has two fish on a table. They’re both wearing dark sunglasses, and each has a microphone in front of them. You can see a couple of guitar players behind them. The caption is “Salmon Dave”, and they’re singing “I’m a sole, man….”

                Later. Play it, Steve……


                Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband is from Iran – tho he swears he is not partial, according to him Iran’s saffron is the best. Favorites aside – 2 cups! wow!!!! – that’s some friend!!! Many-a-time that my husband’s kin visit from Iran, they bring back a bunch, yet I’m sure we don’t have 2 cups total. I have been instructed to use it spaaaaarrrrrringly – along with to-be-expected rice & tadig (Iranian crusty rice), Iranians use it in tea, which gives it wonderfulness upon wonderfulness of fragrance, taste & transcendent color. A pinch in yogurt is extra-delish too. Boy – your post has me drooling & has inspired me to write longest comment ever.


    1. You are so lucky! The food of Iran is sooooooooo gooooooooooo! I know many European and Asian countries are the ones first mentioned in any “Greatest Food Nations in the World” discussion, but I *always* start rattling off the amazing dishes that Iran has produced all through the centuries. I was fortunate to have a good friend from Iran some years ago – a HUGE fellow, a national college wrestling champ, who was very proud that he always went back to his home every year because he was needed to carry the massive alam his town had. Anyway, the foods we used to make! He taught me to make tadig, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since. It really took me back when I saw you just mention it there. (Lol…I burned my cooking pot to ashes the first time I made it.)

      So yes, your husband will get no argument from me. I’ve only ever had Spanish saffron, but considering how wonderful all Iranian goods are I wouldn’t be surprised if their saffron was equal or even surpassing any other country’s quality.

      Thank you for taking the time to post the Longest Comment Ever! I loved it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve heard others say the same – I think its sort of in the same category as Italian food, where its flavorful, but not too hot for newbies. Have you checked out, “Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies,” by Najmieh Batmanglij, which includes lots of food porn worth pix?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Lol. I am forbidden under pain of divorce from adding any more cookbooks to my collection, and have been for years. So no, I don’t own that particular title. I do have “Secrets of Cooking Armenian/Lebanese/Persian” by Linda Chirinian, c.1987, and it’s excellent AND porn filled also.

          Plus, there’s this thing called the “Internet”….



              1. Am missionary for libraries – want everyone to use them so that they will get even better 🙂 Have several posts about them on my blog


    1. Yes! Yes! Because the only food source will be shrimp until power is restored and the roads become passable again. You damn well BETTER have saffron on hand when that inevitably becomes your fate. Oh, and get a shotgun. Double barrel. Because your neighbors might not have been diligent in their own saffron stockpiling, and you see how they eye you already. Trust me, it happens all the time….

      Liked by 1 person

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