Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Fish Soup with Saffron

Saffron. Not just a character on television any more.

Nope that itty-bitty hard-to-harvest crocus stigma has found its way into my little heart.

Sure, sure, it’s the “world’s most expensive spice,” and that has a certain cache, but honestly kids, that's no reason to go adding something to your pantry! You use something because it's tasty, right? Right. (Sure. Right.)

In this case though, the sunburst orange filaments are really quite affordable in small doses. And heaven knows nobody (outside of a professional kitchen) needs a full ounce of the stuff. Do they? That would be madness. It's too strong a flavor to go (reasonably) overboard on. But as a hint. As a back rounder. As that “certain something” it really can elevate a dish to a whole other level. (In this case, the cliche level, I believe.)

For instance, in this fish stew (soup? I never can tell) it is a perfect foil. The sharpness cuts through the fish adding a unique and heady flavor. Catches you unawares for sure. The soup itself is hearty and filling and yet outrageosly good for you. What fun, right? So indulge my peaches! Grab some saffron, try this, and enjoy!

3 teaspoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large onions, chopped
2 large red bell peppers, large dice
1 green bell pepper, large dice
2 14 1/2-ounce cans chopped tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-salt chicken broth or 2 cups fish stock, 1 cup water
2 pounds mixed fish and shellfish (I used squid, large and small scallops, cod, shrimp, shark and halibut)cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
salt and white pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes and lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

Crush the saffron threads and add to a small bowl with a few teaspoons of the wine.

Heat the olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté until just golden, about 4 minutes.

Add the bell peppers and stir. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomato and zest and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the white wine and stock and simmer about 5 minutes.

Add the fish and reduce the heat to low. Add the parsley and saffron and let simmer another three to five minutes. You do not want the fish to over cook. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serves four to six


Saffron is the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus and is the world’s most expensive spice. It requires intensive labor and more than 4,600 Crocus flowers (Purple Saffron Flowers) to make a single ounce. Saffron crops quickly deplete the soil and so other crops must be planted and harvested for about seven to ten years in order to replenish the land.

The only commercial scallop fishery in Alaska is off the outer coast from Cape Spencer to Yakutat. There are only nine permit-holders that fish for scallops. They use large nets to dredge the sea floor with. Crews can be as large as 11 members who run up to two dredges while shucking, washing, and bagging scallops around the clock. Alaska scallops are among of the largest in the world.- Fishermans

Stew: Any dish that is prepared by stewing.

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I just adore saffron. Thanks for this delicious-looking recipe!
oh boy, saffron and scallops (i suspect all shellfish were i not allergic to alot of it) is sooo delicious together! this looks wonderful, fish stew is one of the most delish things there is, thx for the inspiration!!!
That looks sooo yummi! I'm almost tempted to brave the kitchen and try and make it on my own. Instead I'll add this to the list of dishes I want you to cook for me, LOL.
Lady A and Aria - THANKS!

And you Miss Leiha - does that mean you're coming to visit? (Pretty please?) There is room at Javi's for everyone! :-)
Sorry, not yet but you know, there's always room at Casa de Leiha (and nuoc mam).
The more Nuoc Mam The Merrier I always say!
I do wish saffron cost less as I LOVE the flavor
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