Annatto or achiote seed is brick-red with a slightly bitter, earthy flavor and imparts a rich yellowish-orange color in Caribbean, Latin American and Filipino cuisines. It has been dubbed the "poor man's saffron" as the color is simalar to the more expensive seasoning. Available whole or ground, the small triangular shaped seeds are used as both a spice and as a natural coloring in butter, rice, smoked fish and cheeses.
Plural: Annatto seeds
Season: available year-round
How to store: Store in an airtight container out of the light.
How to prepare: Add directly to cooking liquid or steep in boiling water for about 20 minutes until desired color is obtained, then discard the seeds. The seeds may also be fried in oil, then discard seeds and use oil.
Substitutions: pinch of paprika (for color not flavor); an equal amount of saffron; yellow food coloring OR hot paprika OR equal parts turmeric and paprika