Recipe: Pickled Mustard Seeds — Our Daily Brine
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Pickled Mustard Seeds

Pickled Mustard Seeds
December 10, 2013 Kyle Hildebrant
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

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

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.


  • 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


  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.

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.

Adapted from David Chang, Momofuku
Our Daily Brine is my personal journal of food exploration and experimentation; covering topics of fermentation, preservation, salumi and all things charcuterie. I appreciate your part in this journey. Please comment, ask questions, offer criticism, or simply say hello.


  1. K 9 years ago

    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?)

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 9 years ago

      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.

      • Roscoe 7 years ago

        I made this a few years back. I didn’t even boil the seeds. After sitting in the liquid for a few days, they absorb it and become plump. I substituted honey for the sugar and added a bit of hot ground New Mexico chili. I love this with sausages and on sandwiches.

    • gary 8 years ago

      I guess with the mustard seeds I thought it would have a little of a bit of a bite. It has NO heat whatsoever. What can I do to kick it up a notch? Add Coleman’s mustard powder? FYI, it took about 2 hour of low simmer to get the mustard seeds to soften.

  2. Hank Shaw 9 years ago

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

  3. Kath 9 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 9 years ago

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

  4. michaeltang27 8 years ago

    Hi Kyle, Chefsteps recipe ( 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!!!

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 8 years ago

      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.

      • michaeltang27 8 years ago

        Hey, thanks for the response, I love that you are always so helpful. Didn’t see this until just now.

  5. Chris 8 years ago

    We cooked ours for two hours. Even left them soaking overnight afterwards. But the seeds never plumped. Don’t know what we are doing wrong.

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 8 years ago

      Chris, it’s hard to diagnose what issues you’re having, if any. I will say: they don’t get a whole lot bigger. Maybe 10% or so. They do get softer and fill with liquid. As for what went wrong, what were you expecting? And more importantly, did they taste good? That’s all that matters.

  6. Alisun 8 years ago

    Thanks for this recipe! I recently had roasted Brussels sprouts with pickled mustard seeds at Susan Feniger’s restaurant Mud Hen Tavern here in LA and stumbled on your site with the gorgeous photos! For vegetarians/vegans, these would add a new dimension to veggies!

  7. Silver 8 years ago

    I substitute liquid Splenda for the sugar, as I don’t cook with, or consume sugar. The liquid Splenda also works with the Sake (see liquid Sucralose conversion for amounts). These are delicious as an ingredient in meat salads, or egg, macaroni, and potato salads as well.

  8. Silver 8 years ago

    Chris, they aren’t really supposed to ‘plump’. They just soften and fill with liquid.

  9. Julie 8 years ago

    Is canning these safe? Seems like it would be…

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 8 years ago

      It’s likely that there is enough acid with the vinegar to be safe, but there’s also a lot of sugar, so I do not know for sure. I haven’t tested the pH of the recipe. I’d suggest you test the pH and ensure that the pH is below 4.2, if you plan on canning. You wouldn’t want to give yourself or other botulism.

  10. Margaret 8 years ago

    Great little canning jars. Are they Bormioli Rocco? Filled with mustard, they would make lovely hostess gifts.

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 8 years ago

      Thanks! I’m not certain of the brand, as there are no markings. I’ve got way too many of these “fido” style jars. And they do make for lovely gifts… I’ve done so many a time, myself.

  11. Bernadette Doolan 8 years ago

    Adore your approach to food and your website. Great job!
    I was wondering if you could advise about a source for mustard seeds in bulk. I’m able to find small amounts sold in packets, but definitely not enough to fill a jar!

    • Bernadette Doolan 8 years ago

      I live in PDX:)

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 8 years ago

      Thanks, Bernadette. I appreciate it. As for bulk, I always buy from Sheridan’s market. They have the big Liter sized containers of most of the spices. It’s significantly cheaper that trying to buy a bunch of small bottles. I think they are something like $15 for a Liter. They also have them in the bulk spice isle, if you wanted less. New Seasons also carries a couple different type of mustard seeds in their bulk spice section.

  12. Bernadette Doolan 8 years ago

    Thanks a million. Loved Sheridans, when I worked close by… distance (both figuratively and literally) is probably why I didn’t think of them now. This recipe is worth the trek:)

  13. Katie 8 years ago

    Can you make this without the sugar? I did the recipe once, and found it to be a little too sweet for my taste.

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 7 years ago

      You certainly can. It was meant to have a balance of salt, sweet, sour and bitter. But you’re welcome to modify it however you wish.

  14. AsH 7 years ago

    Can plain rice vinegar be used here instead of rice wine vinegar?
    Not sure I understand the difference.

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 7 years ago

      No diffrrence. They are two different names for the same thing. To make rice vinegar you must first make sake (rice wine). Thus it is sometimes called rice wine vinegar.

  15. Patty 7 years ago

    Can I leave out or add something else if I don’t have Mirin?
    Thanks so much! Excited to make this!

    • Author
      Kyle Hildebrant 7 years ago

      You can substitute sake sweetened with sugar for mirin. Google it.

  16. Tom Pirie 7 years ago

    Hi All,
    I’m super psyched I found this site!
    I’m excited to try this Pickled Mustard Seed recipe, as I have a Ton of Mustard Seeds left over after making my last batch of Stone Ground Mustard.
    First Q: What volume should the above recipe Yield?
    … … … (How many _oz. Jars?)

  17. Steve 7 years ago

    Thanks I needed to know and now it’s on the stove

  18. James 6 years ago

    I am trying this . Thanks Kyle you have given Me an Idea I will share when I do IT !

  19. James II 6 years ago

    Thanks for this…did however find it a little sweet for my tastes, next time Mirin alone would add sufficient sweet (I think) ..changed it up a bit with a little turmeric for a some earthiness, a few dried chillies for colour and a bit of heat, also added a some coriander and black mustard seeds. Amazing taste and texture addition to your (sous vide) Pate de Campagne which is delicious and a duck Rillette…
    Charcoo heaven on a baguette

  20. Misneac 5 years ago

    I occasionally use this at work with sliced cured salmon bellies as part of the charcuterie platter. A little heap (failed quenelle) of this, surrounded by very thinly sliced cukes with the salmon overtop of them is a nice element. The pickled mustard seed gets a lot of comments as a sort of “trompe l’oeil” caviar when paired with the salmon. Have lately mixed it into a kuri squash puree’ and tried it with sausage and sliced grilled peaches. VERY nice, brings a great acid element to the savory, sweet and fat of the other ingredients, and plays off the old “mustard and hotdogs” stereotype without being trite. After having reread some of your recipes maybe I’ll make a batch with peppa vin and see how it turns out.

  21. Elana 5 years ago

    Hi Kyle,

    We had a cauliflower with pickled mustard seeds at Amada in Philadelphia. I’m trying to replicate the recipe at home. I’ve tried pickling the mustard seeds twice – once with a Food52 recipe, and now with yours. Both times, the mustard seeds come out unpleasantly bitter to my palate. This time I boiled and drained them 4-5 times before pickling and they are still rather bitter, though better than without boiling and draining. Are they supposed to be so bitter? Also after an hour, they did soften, but didn’t really fill with liquid. Any suggestions ?

  22. Trev 4 years ago

    How about dehydrating them after pickling and using them like that? Sounds like it would add another nice nuanced flavor to the mustard seed like when fermenting peppers then dehydrating..

  23. Jag512 4 years ago

    Interesting. I followed Katie Couric’s link here.

    Just an FYI: Wrong “its” used below, Kyle.
    “And outside of it’s regular role in pickling brines…”

    (I’m looking for new clients for remote proofing/editing.) 😉

  24. Minerva Moser 2 years ago

    I happened across this recipe because I had been eating some store-bought summer sausage wherein I was attracted to the little seeds that popped in my mouth -like caviar would, I thought. At first I was thinking they were coriander seeds, but these were smaller. Many recipes for homemade summer sausage called for mustard seeds, so I decided that must be what was fascinating my mouth in the sausage. I decided to see if there was some way to duplicate that experience without the meat, and I was pleasantly surprised to find several online recipes for pickled mustard seeds. I’m going to try this one because it doesn’t have so many weird ingredients that I would have to acquire before even knowing if the results would satisfy my curiosity. I hope I’m not disappointed, but either way, thanks for posting this.

  25. Jessie 7 months ago

    When I tell you I’ve put these on everything since making, I am not exaggerating. So, so good! Thank you for sharing, and changing my food world!

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