Mustard seed has been used for flavoring foods for centuries. This spice comes from a plant in the cabbage family, making it a relative of the similarly hot horseradish. At first glance, you might perceive nothing interesting about mustard seeds, since they are relatively flavorless and lacking in aroma when dry and raw. However, they can dramatically alter the flavor of a dish if you use them correctly. They are among the world’s most popular spices, as they show up in dishes from Europe and all over Asia. Below, we look at the ways to use mustard for the best flavor.
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As a pickle spice
One of the most common places to see mustard seed is in pickles. Mustard seed gets added to the brine and gives pickles a pleasant tang. You will see whole mustard seeds in all kinds of pickles, including dill pickles and pickled onions.
In prepared mustard
Mustard seed is the main ingredient in prepared mustard, which consists mainly of mustard seed mixed with a liquid. The type of mustard seed, the liquid and how the seeds are ground factor into the style of prepared mustard. You can make prepared mustard with white, yellow, brown or black mustard seeds and mix them with grape juice, vinegar, or beer.
The mustard seeds can be fully ground as they are in classic Dijon mustard, or mostly ground as in stone ground mustard. Sometimes, most of the seeds will be left whole with only a small portion ground to make a paste, which is how whole-grain mustard is made.
As a dry rub spice
You can use mustard seeds to form a flavorful foundation if you grind them to make mustard powder. Whether you intend to grill fast and hot or smoke low and slow, the zing of mustard seed will complement smokey meats and the other seasonings used in a typical dry rub blend. You have the option of toasting the seeds lightly before grinding them and adding them to your dry rub.
As a salad dressing spice
Mustard seed is especially versatile when it comes to the kinds of salad dressings you can flavor with it. Mustard seed’s tanginess works with everything from leafy lettuce to shredded cabbage. Grind mustard seeds and add the powder to your vinaigrette for extra zestiness, or you can use them to make a creamy dressing. Mustard seed also works in coleslaw dressing and the dressing for potato salad.
As an Indian food spice
Mustard seed might not be the first spice that most people would associate with Indian food, but it does get used a lot. Mustard seed shows up in recipes for dal, sambar and coconut chutney among many others. In a significant number of the recipes, mustard seeds get tempered in hot ghee with other spices until they pop.
As a ham spice
Prepared mustard is one of the more traditional condiments for ham sandwiches because its sharpness can cut through the fattiness of the ham; however, that’s not the only way that you can pair mustard with ham. Mustard seed can make an enjoyable addition to a ham glaze. A sugary glaze where the mustard is paired with honey, brown sugar or even a fruit jam can be an exceptional complement to salty and smoky cured pork.
As a hot sauce spice
Mustard seed is commonly recommended as a solution to keep hot sauces from separating. Ground mustard acts as an emulsifier, which means that it enables oil compounds that would otherwise separate to form a stable blend. Mustard seed’s stabilizing properties are most evident in hot sauces, where the vinegar base would separate from the chili pepper pulp.