Annatto

Ixa orrellana

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Called “achiote” in Latin American cuisine, this seed is used to impart brilliant yellow color to foods. The seeds are harvested from tree-borne pods. Each individual odd-shaped, rock-hard, brick-colored seed releases a large amount of colorant when heated. A common technique is infusing oil in the first stage of a dish to gain its color, as with classic beef stew with tomato and lemongrass, Bò Kho of Vietnam. Some cooks do choose to grind the seeds finely and add them directly to the marinade [recipe pg ref Mi Quang]. But the spice does not contribute much flavor. Annatto is used in the West to color Cheddar cheese, butter, and other products.

Vietnamese: hột điều mầu