This is hands-down, my favorite side dish for grilled or stir-fried meat (see my post for Salt and Pepper Pork Belly). Saffron rice can be ready in 30 minutes and it elevates any dish that it gets paired to. This recipe is good for three servings, but we always end up eating whatever is left on its own, even without the main dish; oftentimes not leaving the table until there is not a single morsel of saffron rice left. 🙂
In preparing for this dish, you should slice your onions finely, (or extremely small?) – like how you would slice your onions for risotto. The aim is that the onions will disappear once the rice is cooked. You taste the caramelized onions, but you do NOT see it. 🙂 You can also use either chicken or vegetable stock, result for both is good. But personally, I prefer using chicken stock, because that is ALWAYS what I have, and I feel that the extra oil (or fat 😉 ) in it makes the rice tastier.
You can use powdered saffron or threads – I have tried both. Before our trip to Barcelona, I only had powdered saffron on hand. But since good saffron is not hard to find in Barcelona, I sort of bought tons (more like hoarded!), so I now have a stash for a COUPLE of years. 😀
Oh! One last thing, I have tried both jasmine and basmati rice with this recipe, and even if I prefer jasmine rice for my plain white rice, I am with the ‘basmati-team’ for saffron rice. It just feels…FLUFFIER. (?!) Bottom line, the result is not an ‘in-your-face’ flavor, but a delicate and addictive one instead. 🙂
- 1 and 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small white onion, finely sliced
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 1 and 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- salt to season
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped (optional)
Heat up the stock in a pan and bring to a simmer.
Use a pestle and mortar to grind the saffron threads into a fine powder. Get a tablespoon of the simmering stock and put in a cup with the powdered saffron. Set aside.
Rinse the basmati rice as per package instructions.
Heat up a pan and pour the olive oil. Add the finely sliced onions and cook until soft (and caramelized).
Add the rinsed basmati rice and stir to combine. Pour the stock and the saffron that has been set aside.
Bring to a boil. Season with salt and gently mix the rice with a fork (I find that this makes them fluffier when cooked).
Lower the heat to low and wait for all the water to be absorbed and the rice to be cooked. Mine normally takes around 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and use a fork gently (again) to separate the rice.
Leave covered for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with chopped parsley, if desired.