The rule is that a “little saffron” will go a long way.
When determining how much saffron to use in cooking, remember that the saffron flavor will be stronger the second day. In general, just use a pinch in soups and stews that serve 4 to 6 people.
Saffron is especially good when used in cooking seafood dishes such as bouillabaisse and paella. It is also used in risotto and other rice dishes. Try adding some to your next beef stew or tomato-based sauce. To make a wonderful marinade for fish, add saffron threads, garlic, and thyme to vinegar. Saffron is also used in bread and cake cooking. Use your imagination and be creative when using saffron in your cooking.
Since heat releases saffron’s flavor essence, it needs to be steeped in hot water, broth, or even alcohol before being added to food. Pre-soaking also allows the color to disperse throughout the food.
For every teaspoon of saffron, add 3 teaspoons of liquid; using a spoon make sure that the saffron threads get properly soaked (do not crush the threads). Let the saffron soak for a minimum of two hours. The mixture can be left soaking for as long as twelve hours, but two hours will give you the proper results. The leaves will expand to 1 1/2 times their dry size.
If you are in a hurry or have forgotten to soak the saffron, add 5 teaspoons of liquid for every teaspoon of saffron; let soak for 20 minutes. Using the back of a spoon or in your ceramic mortar, mash the threads so that a thick paste is formed. You can then add the paste to the dish when required.
Carefully and slowly toast threads in a heavy skillet over low heat (watch carefully and do not allow to burn – burned saffron threads are irretrievable and unusable). Then grind threads into a powder and use as directed in the recipe.