Don’t be daunted by saffron’s reputation for being the most expensive spice on the planet. Because its flavor is so potent, just a little goes a long way. Saffron is the signature flavor in time-tested seafood dishes like bouillabaisse and paella, so it stands to reason that it made a perfect addition to our simple pan-seared shrimp with fresh tomato sauce. Serve over a short-grained rice like Valencia (sometimes called paella rice).Print
Pan-Seared Shrimp with Saffron-Tomato Sauce
A quick sear in a combination of butter and olive oil yields moist, tender shrimp to be topped with a bold but simple saffron-tomato sauce.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled (tails left on) and deveined
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 medium shallots, very finely chopped
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Pinch of saffron threads, crushed (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 3 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Cooked short-grain rice for serving (see below)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until light golden in color, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in the white wine and chicken broth, bring to a simmer, then add the saffron. Simmer for 1 minute, add the tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, add the fresh parsley and transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.
- Without wiping out the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining tablespoon each of olive oil and butter. Once the butter and oil is hot, add the shrimp in a single layer.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until the first side is lightly browned, 1-1/2 minutes. Turn with tongs and continue cooking until browned on the second side and opaque through the center, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes longer.
- To serve, make a bed of rice on each plate, add a portion of shrimp and top with sauce.
- Yield: 4 servings (about 3 cups)
- Combine 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth, 3/4 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and add 1 cup of rice. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
More On Saffron:
Saffron threads are actually the stigma of a particular variety of crocus. Each flower bears only 3 of these stigma, which have to be carefully harvested by hand.
Somewhere around 50,000 flowers, grown in an area the size of a football field are needed to produce a single pound of saffron. After harvest, the threads are delicately roasted over carefully tended wood fires.
When buying saffron, look for a vibrant, red-orange color and threads that are very slightly pliable. These qualities are indicators of freshness and saffron tends to darken and become brittle as it ages.