By Tom Havran
What it tastes like: You’re likely familiar with mustard from its use as a condiment on sandwiches, but using the seeds in whole or ground form as a spice will open up exciting new flavors for you to experience. In their inert state, mustard seeds have a rich, nutty, oily flavor. But when combined with a liquid, watch out! An enzyme in the seed reacts with other compounds called glucosinolates to create a complex of flavors including hot-pungent, vegetal and garlicky. The more heated and acidic the liquid, the hotter the mustard will be.
What it looks like: Mustard seed comes in three basic varieties: black, brown and yellow. Brown and yellow mustards are the most commonly used, with the brown being a bit more pungent than the yellow. The seeds are tiny, nearly perfect 1-milimeter spheres.
How to use it: Many Indian dishes begin with whole mustard seeds fried in oil along with curry leaf. Besides imparting the oil — and every subsequent ingredient that passes through the oil — with a pungent mustardy flavor, the seeds themselves become a nutty, toothsome delight in the finished dish. The ground seeds form a slightly oily powder that’s the basis for the condiment mustard, but it can also be used in any powdered seasoning blend, marinade or dry seasoning rub.
Here are a few tips about how to use mustard seed:
- Add whole seeds to pickling brines and meat brines.
- Fry whole seeds in oil and then add them to rice before topping it with curry.
- Fry whole seeds in oil along with whole cumin seeds and add them to samosa or curry pot pie fillings.
- Grind seeds and combine with other seasonings in dry rubs for grilled meats and tofu.
- Grind seeds and make your own fresh mustard by stirring in plain water, wine, fruit juice or vinegar.
Recipe: Beer Mustard
Have you ever tried mustard seed? Share what you thought of it in the comments below!
About the author: Tom is communicator of natural living for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. In other words, he’s a very imaginative copywriter. A local boy, raised on a farm just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Norway, Tom enjoys drawing, plant hoarding, cooking and living the simple life in the beautiful state of Iowa.