Welcome to Steamy Kitchen!

Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Free Saffron Drawing!

My dear friends, I have a nice little gift for you.

::tap dancing with excitement!!::

A few weeks ago, I ordered my yearly supply of Saffron from my fav supplier. I wrote to them, asking if they be willing to donate some saffron for a contest that I wanted to hold – and they generously said, “YES!”

I’m not talking about a few wispy threads in a teeny tiny jar the size of my thumb. I’m talking about a mountain of saffron so big that you’ll giggle and squeal with delight.

Just so you know, I’m NOT getting paid to promote their stuff - I contacted them with the idea of a random drawing.


Let’s talk about saffron for just a bit. If you aren’t familiar with how saffron is graded or how to judge good saffron from the crappy stuff – here’s a little lesson.

What is the stuff and why is it so *(&#!!&*$%% expensive?

Saffron is known as the world’s most expensive spice. It is the stigma from a Crocus flower. Each flower produces 3 saffron threads, which must be harvested delicately by hand and dried. Itakes over 13,000 threads to make one ounce!!!

My photo above is one ounce of saffron.

<–photo from Wiki

Crocus Sex 101

The top part of the stigma (above the dotted line) is the “saffron” – this is the only part of the thread that has flavor and intense color. These are the goods.

The bottom part (below the dotted line) is the shitty stuff, called the style. It has virtually no culinary value – being aromaless, tasteless and gives no color to your dish.

Some evil saffron sellers will try to package the entire thread as “saffron.”  Bastards.

So, to judge quality of saffron, you can just simply look at the color of the threads and see if you have a lot of the shitty style part attached. Of all places that I get my saffron, the most consistent quality + best prices have been with Saffron.com, which is based in San Francisco. (hey, you San Franciscan’s out there – give me your input on this company…have you purchased from them before and do you know anything about the company?)


To use saffron, you first soak a pinch of threads in a couple tablespoons of warm water to release its flavors, color and aroma. When the recipe calls for the saffron to be added, just add the threads + water to the dish.

To enter, comment below!


144 Responses to “Free Saffron Drawing!”

  1. Raaga — 10/3/07 @ 6:38 am

    First time here and loving it :-)

  2. “Princess Jaden, you awe me with your grace, blind me with your beauty and inspire me with your angelic aura of innocence.” That is why I chose your Persian Cherry Saffron Rice as my fave. (Actually, I chose it because it is delicious and it makes me feel a real chef when I make it!).

    P.S. Sorry I screwed up on the link thing. The caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet.

  3. vin — 10/3/07 @ 9:41 am

    Saffron Panna Cotta, from Batali’s recipes. Heavenly good.

    Princess Jaden, you awe me with your garlic, blind me with your beets and inspire me with your angelic oil of sesame.
    P.S. Is there a way to fix the name of the recipe? I put my name by mistake.

  4. lynn — 10/3/07 @ 10:08 am

    I made your Persian Sour Cherry Saffron Rice with meatballs. Mmmm. It made such a mound that my friend got to feed her family the next night with the leftovers. They loved it, too! As always, I bow before your culinary skills, Jaden, Queen of the Steamy Kitchen

  5. Maggie — 10/3/07 @ 10:33 am

    I had no idea where Saffron came from… so, could I make these recipes in the spring, with saffron harvest from my own crocus?

  6. Danielle — 10/3/07 @ 10:58 am

    Thank you for setting this up! Please enter me in the contest. Thank you! (I submitted one recipe link so far, but I’m sure I’ll add more as I think of them.)

  7. Jaded — 10/3/07 @ 11:39 am

    Gimme gimme gimme some saffron!!!

    I totally want to use it to make some Bouillabaisse (#53)! :D

  8. megan pires — 10/3/07 @ 11:46 am

    I am so sorry it took me 3 times to get that right. I have never tried Saffron. (gasp) But I love pumpkin soup and thought about this recipe.

  9. Jenn — 10/3/07 @ 12:47 pm

    I was once involved in a Madrid-wide hunt for a mislaid tin of saffron. Buying the lovely stuff and then leaving it behind at a sidewalk cafe that looks like all the other sidewalk cafes in the Plaza de Sta Ana and then enlisting your English-only speaking friends to search for it adds an extra level of rarity and allure to saffron. I think entering a contest and having the saffron shipped direct is a little more straight-forward a route, though.

    I just discovered your blog recently– through Lifehacker maybe? Does that sound right? I’m loving it, thank you.

  10. Dan Heron — 10/3/07 @ 12:51 pm

    The Saffron Panettone is something like my grandmother used to make. She’s in the hospital right now and I’ve been meaning to get the recipe from her for ages, but this is probably the closest thing to it.

  11. Stacie K — 10/3/07 @ 12:52 pm

    I SO cannot afford saffron, but I love love LOVE this recipe. Hope you try it an enjoy! Stace~

  12. Adam Lipkin — 10/3/07 @ 1:22 pm

    I love saffron! Thanks for running this contest (and the site as a whole – this is one of only about four or five food blogs in my rss reader).

  13. deena — 10/3/07 @ 2:26 pm

    sadly i couldn’t find a link for this, but it’s good stuff. as is your website. sign me up!

  14. Winne — 10/3/07 @ 3:37 pm

    So I’m the dumbass that has the recipe linked to my name so it appears as “Winne” but truly, it’s a lentil soup from “Somthing in Season” – http://www.somethinginseason.com/2007/01/i-know-that-ive-used-this-photo-as.html. I came upon it through other blogs and I’ve cooked this a few times and it’s just such a healthy hearty dish. I’ll be honest and admit that my skills are limited in the kitchen and this is my 2nd dish in the kitchen with saffron. The other is a burmese rice dish which I’m sure has a recipe somewhere but I don’t have an English term for it.

  15. Jenn — 10/3/07 @ 4:14 pm

    Hi – I just listed Eggplant Gratin with Saffron Cream – so yummy!! I’d love to win some saffron, please! I’ve never owned any!

  16. J.C. Lundberg — 10/3/07 @ 4:14 pm

    I’d like to be entered. Many thanks!

  17. Liz — 10/3/07 @ 5:59 pm

    I loooove risotto. I hope you like this recipe. And I also hope I win!!!!!! Please fulfill my lifetime dream of cooking with saffron.

  18. Josh — 10/3/07 @ 7:03 pm

    I’m just a college guy, but I’m not a microwave whore. I decided to turn my room into a kitchen complete with oven, 2 burners, a set of pots, a set of knives, a grill, and the obligatory college microwave. And I just wouldn’t be worth much if I didn’t have it properly stocked, but as much as I love it, saffron is just way out of my budget.

    I decided to abandon the tried-and-true recipes and go for something that just looks damn tasty, and desserty too.

    Seriously, an ounce of saffron would be like a dream come true. And now that I’ve turned my friends into food snobs, I wouldn’t be the only one of them to enjoy it. Thanks for the opportunity!

  19. brilynn — 10/3/07 @ 7:46 pm

    Sign me up! Although I’ve never made the Mussels, Clams and Shrimp with Saffron Risotto and Olive Relish, it’s gotta be good because it had a ridiculously long title… also because it has seafood and comes from Lucques restaurant.

  20. Fran Magbual — 10/3/07 @ 9:22 pm

    I obviously can’t follow directions. My recipe is not for myself, but for Risotto alla Milanese, and though I haven’t made it myself, it’s my favorite dish made with saffron.

    Oh yeah, Princess Jaden, you awe me with your grace, blind me with your beauty and inspire me with your angelic aura of innocence.

  21. Jann — 10/3/07 @ 9:25 pm

    What a wonderful post and so informative! I will return to read more….thanks

  22. Darling, dearest Jaden. How did you know I wanted a whole lot of saffron? I am link #65 and I think you’ll die for saffron kulfi (Indian ice cream). Slightly flowery, golden, and the most incredible flavor ever! I need saffron! A lot of it because I want to try this recipe so bad. Love you! :)

  23. maybahay — 10/4/07 @ 3:32 am

    how exciting! i hope to see my mountain of saffron in the post soon. you’ve got a fabulous site. such a fun read and full of useful info.

  24. tonixe — 10/4/07 @ 5:40 am

    goodness ! we only realised today you are actually a celebrity cook OMG ! Great !
    we are watching and listening…(trying really very hard )

  25. Ashley — 10/4/07 @ 11:31 am

    I looooove the Persian Cherry Saffron Rice recipe that you posted. My husband loves you for posting it so that I could finally make it! The saffron that I have at home sucks so it would be killer to win the good stuff :)

  26. Joanna — 10/4/07 @ 2:50 pm

    I posted #67 and I would love to entered in this contest. Thanks Jaden!

  27. suteishichic — 10/4/07 @ 4:20 pm

    Adore you and your blog!

    I would love to be entered into the contest, (pretty please) and I’ve got three recipes for ya!

    While I adore saffron tea, my favorite saffron dish of all time would be hard to pick. We recently went to a big Persian wedding in LA and fell completely in love with the foods (and people). We’ve always loved Persian food at our local Chicago restaurant, but the food at the wedding rehersal dinner and after the ceremony were all homemade by the bride’s large family. Yum!

    We’ve been having a great time trying to duplicate the best of the best.

    First rice pudding with saffron….


    Next, rose water ice cream with saffron. So delicious on a hot LA summer day!

    Last but not least Fesenjan sauce. It is an incredible pomegranate and saffron delicacy that we had the pleasure of trying two different homemade versions of.

    The first was a dark burgundy color that had a slightly smoky and sweeter taste (made by a maternal aunt for the wedding rehearsal dinner) and the second was even darker. Served at the wedding it looked like a big pan of alarmingly tarry goo (and we were actually wondering where the fesenjan sauce was as we went through the buffet–one of the family members was kind enough to help us navigate through the different delicacies).

    The mother of the bride made it and how amazing. It was almost black in appearance, but the taste was heavenly between the nuts, the pomegranate, and the spices. Well worth a try or two to recreate.


    It would be great on a cold, winters day as the sauce is very rich, distinctive, and savory.

    More saffron would really help the efforts! ;)

  28. Diana — 10/4/07 @ 4:47 pm

    Love Paella. Just have not done it myself yet because saffron’s so ex!

  29. Nate 2.0 — 10/4/07 @ 5:49 pm


    I just discovered your flog and am putting it in my shortlist of food blogs I visit. You have great personality and pics.


  30. David — 10/4/07 @ 6:37 pm

    Princess Jaden, this is an absolutely inspired idea. One can never have enough saffron recipes.

    And of course, I managed to not follow directions in step one. Disregard the David in the list, the correct recipe is the Shrimp and Crab with Tomato, Basil and Saffron.

    Shellfish and cream always works for me, but the saffron really makes it distinctive. Hope you like it.

  31. Vitamins — 10/4/07 @ 9:30 pm

    I was always wondering why saffron was so expensive…holy smokes what a horrible job to pick that stuff. Thanks for sharing how to use saffron in recipes. I see many recipes but few ways as to how to actually extract the true flavor of saffron…..Di

  32. eatdrinknbmerry — 10/4/07 @ 11:09 pm

    god the photo is ammmmaaazzzzing jaden.

  33. I am interested in “American (Yellow) Saffron Tea.” Yellow Saffron is a lot less expensive…not that I would substitute it. I am interested in Yellow Saffron for its therapeutic benefits. :-)

    Please enter me in your wonderul drawing.

    I am excited about the No-Knead bread recipe and will be trying it as soon as I get the right equipment. :-)

  34. Ady — 10/5/07 @ 5:35 am

    Hi Jaden I have prepared a Risotto with apple and saffron.
    Risotto is one of most famous italian dish.

  35. Beth — 10/5/07 @ 12:30 pm

    I’ve never actually cooked with saffron myself :( But I keep seeing recipes that include saffron and if I could win some I’m sure that would kickstart my using it! I think I’ll try the Saffron Orzo with Shrimp first.

  36. k dinolfo — 10/5/07 @ 2:29 pm

    I know I wasn’t the first to add Tomato Paella (Mark Bittman’s), but it really is terrific stuff! And the tomatoes are on their last summery legs now, so I’m already getting nostalgic for the dish.

  37. Rose — 10/5/07 @ 3:03 pm

    “Princess Jaden, you awe me with your grace, blind me with your beauty and inspire me with your angelic aura of innocence.”
    Now can I have it please Princess Jaden, Please please please!!!
    My favorite dish using Saffron is Paella.

  38. betty q. — 10/5/07 @ 6:50 pm

    Sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the best! Olla Gitana or Gypsy Pot Soup from Melissa’s website (traveler’s lunchbox) is just simply awesome! I do believe that not all vegetable soup recipes are the same. What makes this one different is the combination of some of the ingredients that normally one would not put in it. The saffron makes it even more luxurious and imparts a flavour that is beyond description. Please do try it and you will not be disappointed!

  39. Neece — 10/5/07 @ 10:38 pm

    How amazing to see so many saffron recipes. What a great idea, Jaden. Whoever wins will be so lucky.

  40. Dhivya — 10/5/07 @ 10:39 pm

    Oh well, I can see so many entries above me! This is my first attempt at such a drawing, usually Lady luck jus does not smile at me but then just wanted to be a part of your event and to show appreciation for taking out so much effort for so many people like me.

    Thanks for giving such a oppurtunity. Have a great time selecting :)


  41. Stepho — 10/6/07 @ 12:12 am

    Your recipe for pho was PERFECT and my mom makes it all the time now. Were it not for my limited kitchen space and budget, I’d try a new Jaden exclusive everyday. As it is, I have to wait til Thanksgiving Break and use my parents’ facilities, but I have a list!!

    Anyway, fantastic contest, fantastic site, fantastic chef.

  42. Kitt — 10/6/07 @ 12:26 am

    Yo, Princess! You are awesome and inspiring. Every saffron dish I could think of and knew how to make was so quickly submitted that I decided to go on a little Googling adventure and find a new dish to test out. Herewith: Malloreddus, or Sardinian saffron pasta.

    My fingers are crossed; I’m out of saffron now.

  43. Melissa — 10/6/07 @ 6:45 am

    Wow, what a treasure trove of saffron recipes! I think that’s the real prize here. I’m gonna have to get cooking – good thing I have a healthy supply gathering dust in the cupbaord.

    Re: Saffron.com, I can personally vouch for their vanilla beans too. Every time I’m in the U.S. I pick up a 1/2 lb or so, and they are absolutely the best I’ve ever worked with, plump, soft and oily. I slightly prefer the flavor of the Planifolias, but the Tahitians are great too.

  44. Amy — 10/6/07 @ 10:06 am

    Oh, Princess Jaden…sorry, forgot the rest.

    It’s plain and simple and delicious. Saffron Rice. Probably my favorite side dish ever. Great comfort food.

  45. Kate — 10/6/07 @ 10:21 am

    Well, I tried to leave the link to my Sweet Saffron Pilaf and it didn’t work. Am I disqualified?? I hope not, oh wondrous Princess Jaden of the Blogosphere. Your awe inspiring dishes evoke priceless and exquisite longing in my culinary heart. I write an Ode to your cooking endlessly……



    Kate (in the Kitchen)

  46. Miss T — 10/6/07 @ 12:10 pm

    Seafood Paella! I love making paella, and Penelope Casas’s recipes work very well.

  47. Beaulotus — 10/6/07 @ 1:35 pm

    Never one to resist a lottery so voil ich bin!

  48. betty q. — 10/6/07 @ 8:08 pm

    Here’s another treasured recipe that I would like to share with my FELLIOW SAFFRON-LOVING COOKS….Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner…so it’s time once again to bring out the croissants in the freezer that I have been saving for this dish. Instead of the traditional turkey stuffing, I make this SAVOURY BREAD PUDDING which always gets rave reviews and am always asked for the recipe! I am soooo fortunate to have good friends that I trade stuff (like my famous home smoked Indian Candy-smoked salmon strips for my friend’s wild mushrooms she picked herself like KING BOLETE, lobster mushrooms, etc.)…The slight variations I made to this dish includes the SOOOOO EXPENSIVE SAFFRON and the croissants…that’s why I only make it once a year!!! It is also good eaten cold the next day if you have any leftovers (which I doubt very much…it usually is the first to disappear!)

  49. Erin — 10/6/07 @ 8:11 pm

    I love your site! I found it through Guilty Carnivore, another awesome site that has something sassy to say and something tasty to suggest.
    This artichoke-crab dish is amazing, a little pricey but worth it. If you do the hearts (what they call ‘crowns’) ahead of time and keep them in lemon water, and buy the crab cleaned (I like dungeness and it’s easier to get than blue lump in PDX), you’re looking at a sper-impressive and very fast treat.