Pickled Mustard Seeds

 

Pickled Mustard Seeds Recipe

Pickled mustard seeds, the kind that top the notorious Bo Ssäm at David Chang’s Momofuku. Plump, sweet and sour, with a caviar-like texture that begs to be popped, one-by-one, between your teeth.

Chang claims the preparation was “straight up copped” from his years at Craft Tom Colicchio‘s restaurant. And if you’ve tried the Korean fried chicken (KFC) at Boke Bowl here in Portland—which is excellent—you’ve essentially had the same sauce preparation used in Momofuku’s Bo Ssäm.

From the outset it’s not a terribly exciting ingredient. And outside of it’s regular role in pickling brines, the humble mustard seed sees little play. But it’s usually just those type of ingredients that go overlooked which can bring a fresh take to a dish.

Mustard Seeds: A Primer

Mustard seeds are produced by the mustard plant. A revelation, I’m sure. They hail from the Cruciferous vegetable family, and come in white, yellow, brown and black varieties. Black seeds, the most difficult to find, are extremely pungent and challenging to harvest, making them more costly. White and yellow seeds are less pungent, with brown falling somewhere in-between. The darker seeds are commonly used in Indian and Southern Asian cuisine, and are often the whole seed component commonly found in coarse deli mustards.

Usage and Applications

On their own, pickled mustard seeds make a fine addition to a charcuterie board. They’re excellent sautéed with leafy greens, like Elise Bauer’s recipe for Sautéed Swiss Chard with Mustard Seeds, which would be excellent with a splash of Pepper Sauce. Outside of solitary consumption, they make a versatile inclusion to various sauces and dressings. For a more refined preparation, I’ll serve these in faux-caviar style atop hors d’oeuvres, like a gravlax blini with crème fraîche, on smoked deviled eggs, or an accompaniment to gravlax. 

 

Pickled Mustard Seeds
Pickled mustard seeds, the kind that top the notorious Bo Ssäm at David Chang’s Momofuku. Plump, sweet and sour, with a caviar-like texture that begs to be popped, one-by-one, between your teeth.
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Yellow mustard seeds
  2. 1 cup Rice wine vinegar
  3. 3/4 cup Water
  4. 3/4 cup Mirin
  5. 1/2 cup Sugar
  6. 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a small sauce pan and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat.
  2. Cook until the seeds are plump and tender (about an hour). If too much liquid evaporates add just enough water to cover the seeds.
  3. Cool and store covered in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Mirin is a sweet fortified Japanese sake commonly used in Japanese cooking. If mirin is not available substitute 1/4 cup sugar dissolved into 3/4 cup sake.
  2. These will last indefinitely if kept covered in the fridge. I'm still using a batch I made nearly a year ago.
Adapted from David Chang, Momofuku
Adapted from David Chang, Momofuku
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8 Responses to “Pickled Mustard Seeds”

  1. K March 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    I have never had this, but I love caviar, and I love mustard. I am going to try this! I think it would be delightful with prosciutto and something sweet (maybe melon?)

    • Kyle Hildebrant March 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

      You know, I’ve not tried it on anything sweet. But that would be a nice counterpoint, especially if pairing with prosciutto. I like this with crème fraîche or sour cream too.

  2. Hank Shaw April 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    It’s even better with black mustard seeds, green peppercorns and coriander seeds, all mixed together. ;-)

    • Kyle Hildebrant April 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      I like that green peppercorns idea, specifically, a lot.

  3. Kath May 16, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    Thank you for the recipe, on a recent road trip to California, I was served pickled mustard seed in three different locations which prompted me to make a mental note to look it up when I returned home. Thank you Portland, Napa ( American Culinary Arts institute) and Carmel. I love the taste and visual texture it adds to food presentation.

    • Kyle Hildebrant May 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

      It’s such a great, flexible little ingredient. Excellent in a kale salad. So many possibilities.

  4. michaeltang27 October 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Hi Kyle, Chefsteps recipe (http://www.chefsteps.com/activities/pickled-mustard-seed) calls for straining and boiling 8 times to remove bitter tannins; is that a good idea? Also, I’ve never had pickled mustard seeds. Is the texture similar to salmon roe? I just want to know when to stop cooking. Or do i just do it to taste? Thanks!!!

    • Kyle Hildebrant October 23, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

      Michael, it’s certainly not a bad idea. Is it necessary? If you want a really mild seed, yes. But part of what I like about them are the mustard/bitter flavor. I’d consider the application. If you’re pairing with something like a fatty pork belly, then having that sharp flavor is a nice counter to cut the fat. If you’re using in a more delicate application like atop an hors d’oeuvre, then the less bitter approach may make more sense. As far as texture goes, not as delicate and juicy as a roe, but there is s but if that “pop” you get when you bite into them.

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