It takes an experienced cook to make a good saffron sauce for fish, seafood, meat or fruit. The sauce is made like a white sauce using broth, fish stock or heavy cream. Its bright yellow color comes from the saffron, which also serves to flavor and add aroma to your recipe.
Saffron comes from the female parts of the crocus sativus. These look like three thin bright yellow threads growing in the middle of each flower in the fall. The flower is native to Asia Minor. Very expensive to gather, saffron comes either as a powder or in its original state, threads. To flavor about ten pounds of rice, you only need about a fourth of a teaspoon of saffron.
Using Saffron Threads
Most recipes for saffron sauces call for the threads, not the powder. In order for the threads to produce the most color, flavor, and aroma, you have to soak them in warm liquid for about an hour before cooking them over direct heat. You can, however, substitute a pinch of saffron powder, adding it directly to the sauce as it boils.
Saffron Fish Sauce
To make a saffron sauce for fish, squid, or other types of seafood, soak a teaspoon of saffron threads in 1 1/4 cups of warm fish stock for about an hour. Then toast three teaspoons of flour in six teaspoons of melted butter. When the flour is golden brown, add the liquid in which the saffron has been soaking. Stir to combine the ingredients and continue stirring until the mixture boils. It will thicken as it cooks. Add salt to taste and serve the saffron sauce hot over hot fish.
Saffron Sauce for Meat
To make a saffron sauce to serve over veal or pork meatballs, start by soaking a teaspoon of saffron threads in a cup of warm chicken broth for an hour. Mince a small onion. Then fry the onion in a quarter cup of olive oil before dumping in three teaspoons of flour. When the flour is toasted to an even golden color, pour in the broth in which the saffron has been soaking. Add one-fourth of a cup of white wine. Then, stir as the saffron sauce cooks until it thickens and begins to boil. Pour it over your main dish, meatballs, which you can serve with rice or pasta.
Saffron Sauce for Stewed Fruit
Stewed apples or peaches can be embellished with a sweet saffron sauce. Soak a teaspoon of saffron threads in two cups of heavy cream that is at room temperature. Leave it soaking for an hour. Add a quarter cup of amaretto liqueur to the cream. Place one-quarter cup of unsalted butter in a saucepan. Let it melt. Then stir in one half cup of granulated sugar and three teaspoons of flour. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, pour in the cream mixture in which the saffron has been soaking. Stirring constantly, bring it to a boil. It will thicken as it cooks. Pour it hot over hot or cold stewed fruit. You can even decorate the dessert with a fresh mint leaf for fun.