This dish, which can be enjoyed as an appetizer with crusty bread or as a main dish with steamed basmati rice—will make you fall in love with Persian saffron. If you are serving it as a main dish for 4 people, I would double the recipe. You can use any herb you like—that’s the beauty . Make sure to peel and eat the shrimps with your hands, without cutlery, it’s more enjoyable that way!
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main
- 2 teaspoons saffron threads, crushed into powder in a pestle and mortar
- 4 to 5 tablespoons warm water
- 2 leeks, whites and tender green parts only, halved, thinly sliced into half-moon shapes and washed well
- 1 cup herbs of your choice (I use cilantro, leaves and stems; Italian flat-leaf parsley, leaves only; and mint, leaves only)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound shrimp, shell on, deveined, and washed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Sea salt, to taste
- Divide saffron powder in two. To one portion, add the warm water, stir, and set aside. Leave the other batch as is, in powdered form. You will use it later.
- Pat leeks dry before you begin to cook.
- Chop herbs finely and set aside.
- Place a large frying pan (I use a 12-inch) on the stove over medium heat and add oil.
- When oil is hot and glistening, add leeks and sauté till they begin to wilt a bit, just about 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown or overcook leeks.
- Turn heat to medium-high and add shrimps and saffron water. Sauté till the shrimp shells turn pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add herbs, gently stir to combine, take pan off stove, and set aside.
- Working very quickly (you don’t want the shrimps to completely cool down), place a small saucepan or frying pan on high heat and add butter. As soon as butter begins to melt, add the reserved powdered saffron, stir and pour this saffron-butter over shrimps. Gently stir to combine.
- Sprinkle sea salt on top and serve immediately.