(Aceite de Achiote)
Annatto seeds, known as achiote in Spanish, are small irregularly
shaped, deep reddish colored seeds about the size of a lentil. They
grow in pods but are sold loose in jars in the spice aisle. (Or
see the "Sources" section.) Steeping annatto (achiote)
seeds in hot olive oil for a few minutes will do more than give
the oil a brilliant orange-gold color; it will infuse it with a
nutty, delicate aroma and add a quick kick to whatever you use it
in. This incredibly simple technique will become part of your repertoire,
not just for the many dishes that call for it in Daisy's book, but
any time you want a splash of color and a hint of annatto flavor.
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons achiote (annatto) seeds
Makes about 1 cup
Heat the oil and annatto seeds in a small skillet over medium heat
just until the seeds give off a lively, steady sizzle. Don't overheat
the mixture or the seeds will turn black and the oil a nasty green.
Once they're sizzling away, pull the pan from the heat and let stand
until the sizzling stops. Strain as much of the oil as you are going
to use right away into the pan; store the rest for up to 4 days
at room temperature in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
In addition to using achiote oil to sauté onions, garlic
and such, you can use it straight, painted onto fish and poultry
headed for the grill or broiler.