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.
- 1 cup Yellow mustard seeds
- 1 cup Rice wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup Water
- 3/4 cup Mirin
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- Combine all ingredients together in a small sauce pan and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat.
- Cook until the seeds are plump and tender (about an hour). If too much liquid evaporates add just enough water to cover the seeds.
- Cool and store covered in the refrigerator.
- 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.
- These will last indefinitely if kept covered in the fridge. I'm still using a batch I made nearly a year ago.