On my last shopping spree at the Asian market, I picked up a 1/2 oz package of "Azafran" for $2. As you might have guessed this wasn't the meticulously separated bright red threads that you pay 50 times more for. The cheap stuff definitely isn't pure, it had yellow junk mixed in with the red. That said, I decided to give it a whirl tonight making some quick paella out of leftovers.
Not wanting to add the junky saffron straight to my sofrito, I steeped a monster pinch of the stuff (probably 5x more than with "good" saffron) in some hot water and strained it into my rice. I had no idea how pure the saffron was and thus had no idea how much to add but I was pleasantly surprised. My rice turned bright yellow and had a potent saffron flavor.
Anyone else have experience with crappy saffron like this? I'm going to have a hard time paying big bucks again after this experience. Its certainly less pure, but its way cheaper and you get much much more of it!