Saffron may be the world's priciest spice, but the color and flavor it adds makes it worth the splurge for many chefs. Chef Shane Hughes of the Tudor Room at Great Fosters Hotel in Surrey, England uses saffron in pasta dough. "It ­produces a rich, golden color you can’t get from egg yolks alone," he said. He also uses it as a finishing spice. "Instead of infusing it, I’ll just suspend the whole grains in a brandade espuma with which I top a dish of butter-poached cod. The effect on diners as the filaments melt into the foam under their noses is immediate and very heady."

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