Saffron is one of the world’s most delicate and expensive spices. The reason why saffron is so expensive is because this spice is the stamen from the flower Crocus sativus, which only bloom for one week of the year. Each flower produces about 3 – 4 stamen (i.e saffron), which must be picked by hand and then dried. An estimated of around 150 flowers and many hours of labour are needed to produce one gram of saffron!
Photo taken from Carmencita, Spain, production facilities. Every gram of saffron are still handpicked and weighted before bottling.
You go through recipes and some call for chili powder or flakes, while others call for a pinch of cayenne or a tablespoon of paprika. They all sound very different but when you are in the spice row of the supermarkets, all three of these look the same. They are vibrant red and in the form of a powder. Of course there are more varieties such as ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder to name a few. But for simplicity sake, let’s keep to the 3 basic types that we are used to seeing in the supermarkets in Hong Kong.
Seafood is a great choice for quick and easy meals. Fish, prawns, clams, squids and all these delicious choices are tasty, healthy and wonderful options for those busy weeknights where you just need to get dinner on the table for yourself or your family. The simplest of seasoning such as olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and the occasional dried chili flakes are more than enough to bring out the sweet tastes of delicate seafood. And whether it is sautéing, grilling or baking in the oven, the cooking time for seafood dishes are always less than 30 minutes.
As I always tend to go the western route when it comes to cooking, here are my top 5 Asian seafood dishes that I think are perfect for simple weeknight dinners but good enough to make for dinner parties. Continue reading
Lamb is not the kind of meat that everyone would like to cook at home. Its strong flavour and not quite knowing how to cook it makes many of us pass it up for more familiar and popular cuts. If you are a lamb lover, don’t let this unfamiliarity deter you from cooking a succulent piece of lamb. Because if you think about it, cooking lamb chops is no different from cooking pork chops and braising a lamb stew is pretty much the same as braising a beef stew.
Slow-braised Lamb Ragu with Paparadelle
For all meats, whether they come from a cow, a pig or a lamb, the types of cuts are very similar because these animals all have 4 legs and move in the same way. Therefore the muscles and parts of their bodies that are used (or not used) are pretty much the same. The tenderest cuts will be the loin chops and tougher cuts will be their shoulders, legs or shank area. For example, lamb chops can be quickly pan fried just like pork chops or steaks. Tougher cuts such as leg of lamb or brisket area are best to braise slowly for 2-3 hours. Continue reading