Tagged With: organic
We have an enchanting story to share…it tells the tale about the very special saffron that comes to us from the folks at Fair Trade Morocco.
Fair Trade Morocco is a small importing business founded by Randy Thompson and Felicia Cain. While volunteering with the Peace Corps in Morocco, Felicia and a fellow volunteer met with a local association that was interested in exporting the exquisite saffron grown in the Suktana region of Morocco. Randy and Felicia have collaborated with the saffron association and the community of Taliouine, Suktana, to provide the highest quality, sustainable product to the U.S. market.
The saffron is harvested in October and arrives in our store, not long after, personally delivered by two Peace Corps volunteers. We get giddy over the beautiful, certified organic, aromatic threads. We ooh and ahh, take zillions of photos, talk about saffron laden recipes, inhale the luscious bouquet and carefully place the saffron in 1 gram jars for our customers.
Oh yes, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Always has been and probably will always be. Here at the shop, we are often asked about the price of our saffron by the ounce. We normally sell it in smaller quantities, by the gram, and the staff was shocked to realize that it would cost $520 for just one ounce!
The beautiful yellow, orange, and red stigmas from the small purple saffron crocus must be handpicked from the center of the flower, each crocus provides only three stigmas and it takes 14,000 stigmas to yield one ounce of saffron. It can take 40 hours of picking, a full work week, just to pick a couple pounds. Luckily, one gram is more than enough to enjoy this exotic spice.
The golden threads of saffron infuse both an elegant flavor and a golden color into recipes. Saffron is part of the culinary culture in many different regions of the world. In India saffron is an indispensable ingredient in many recipes of rice, sweets and ice-creams. It is also used in Ayurvedic medicine and in religious rituals. In Saudi Arabia, a real Arabic coffee should have saffron and cardamom. In northern Italy and southern Switzerland, saffron is essential in the preparation of a traditional Risotto. In Sweden it is a traditional to bake saffron bread on the day of St. Lucile. Bouillabaisse, a fish stew from Provence in France, is traditionally served with a saffron broth. Finally, in Spain saffron is an indispensable ingredient in such famous dishes as Paella, Fabada or Pote Gallego.
That’s our Saffron Story…..we hope you enjoy both the story and the saffron as much as we do.
The best part of being a spice merchant is the taste-testing process… We’re pretty serious about only putting our name on things we love, so every now and again we’ll make a really over-the-top staff meal, mostly test out new blends and spices, but also not-so-secretly because we’re all gluttons. Our one spice merchant with a seafood allergy is off today, so of course, it was the day for homemade SUSHI with Real Wasabi®!
Real Wasabi® is a new offering for us. Wasabi is notoriously difficult to cultivate. This special product is grown in the traditional Japanese “Sawa” method, using constantly circulating spring water. This manner makes the rhizomes take longer until they’re mature enough to harvest- up to two or three years- but produces the cleanest, purest taste. When fresh, wasabi can be grated with ceramic or shark-skin graters to produce a paste, or sold dried as we carry it, and rehydrated in equal parts with water.
The flavor is grassy and vegetal; milder in heat than “faux” wasabi (the mix of horseradish, mustard, and food coloring that you know so well), and without the tear-inducing burn, either. The dried form is closer to army green than the neon-hued stuff you’re used to, and creamier in texture as well. Letting the paste stand covered for at least ten minutes allows the flavors to develop, so be sure to give it some time.
We enjoyed it as a condiment on these spicy tuna and scallop rolls, veggie rolls, black cod hand rolls, seared ahi and ahi sushi, Japanese barbequed black cod, flash-salt-cured and seared diver scallops, and yes, even some on this mango we salt cured on a Himalayan Salt Plate! We mixed a little in with some Japanese mayonnaise, too, and used it as a dipping sauce for those sugar peas. We might have to roll home from the shop today…