Fields of Purple for ICEX Chefs

Spanish saffron / Juan Manuel Sanz - ICEX

Spanish saffron / Juan Manuel Sanz – ICEX

The twelve participants in this year’s edition of the ICEX Training Program in Spanish Gastronomy are well into their two-week trip through Spain, during which they have the opportunity to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences like the one they undertook last Friday morning in Castile-La Mancha.

The chefs visited this region’s famed saffron farms: purple-hued fields dotted with the flowers that give rise to one of the world’s most valued and valuable spices.

250,000 threads (from the red stigmas of the Crocus sativus L. flower) are needed to make one kilo of this flavorful spice, and on Friday these ICEX chefs got a first-hand look at how these threads are painstakingly harvested by hand and carefully toasted.

After more than half a year in Spain, working at some of the country’s top restaurants, this was surely not the international chefs’ first encounter with this prized Spanish spice.

Classic Spanish paella is obviously one of the most famous uses for saffron, but the spice is extremely versatile in any number of dishes, adding its unmistakable flavor and aroma to every bite.

Need ideas for what to cook with Spanish saffron? Try some of these recipes from Foods and Wines from Spain:

Salted cod fritters in saffron batter

Secreto of Ibérico pork with Spanish saffron-roasted potatoes, rosemary and red onions

Saffron-marinated sea bass fillets with sweet and sour red peppers

Enjoy!

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