Updated: Jan 11, 2021
You can't own as many cookbooks as I do without coming across a recipe or two (or ten...) that make you scratch your head and say 'okay.... if you say so...'. You're intrigued- use corn cobs to make a stock for my grits? Okay, Alton Brown... You're confused- poach eggs in a muffin tin? Okay, Nita Duhe...
And then there are the recipes that linger in the back of your mind, taunting you as you make your groceries*, daring you to grab that bag or jar of Unfamiliar and get a little loose in the kitchen. Nestled in the pages of Richard Blais's cookbook Try This at Home I found such a recipe. His "Mustard Caviar", with its three-ingredient-and-half-a-paragraph-recipe called to my inner Cajun. We're fond of smokey, earthy flavors in the first place. Mustard sneaks its way into many a dish down here. It's completely commonplace to to top your Monday bowl of creamy white beans and rice with a squirt of yellow mustard (I do it, and I don't care if you think I'm weird). So I made it, fell in love with it, then did the most Cajun thing of all- mess with something that's damn well good on its own. But I can't help but add a little vinegar, and maybe and a little heat, and maybe a pinch of...
In this version, these tiny, earthy pops of sour and texture are so good you'll find yourself inventing ways to eat them- though by the spoonful is perfectly acceptable.
Here's some of my favorites:
Mix into chicken salad, tuna salad, or cole slaw
As a garnish for deviled eggs: combine 2 T pickled mustard seeds with 1 t smoked paprika. Use a spoon to make a small bowl in the yolk of prepared deviled eggs. Spoon a small amount into each bowl. You'll probably need to put extra out; people will want to try the seeds on their own
Serve with hummus or Cajun-style creamy white beans
Over low heat, melt 4 T butter. Stir in 2 T pickled mustard seed, a few cracks of pepper, and the zest of a small lemon. Serve with roasted chicken or grilled pork
Accompanying a milder blue cheese on a charcuterie platter
Pickled Mustard Seed
1/4 cup whole mustard seed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 small bay leaf
1 T salt
pinch of red pepper flake
1/4 cup white wine vinegar, apple cider, or rice wine vinegar
1. In a small saucepan, toast mustard seeds over medium-low heat until fragrant, stirring constantly, about five minutes.
2. Add all ingredients except vinegar. Stir until smooth, increase heat to medium, and simmer until mustard seeds look gooey and the liquid is syrupy, 4-5 minutes.
3. Turn off heat and add vinegar. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a glass jar. Keeps in the refrigerator for 6 weeks (that won't be a problem).