Pickled Mustard Seeds Make a Wonderful Garnish
I found this recipe as part of a Blue Apron package featuring salmon as the entry. The pickled mustard seeds were used as a finishing topping for the salmon to give it an extra layer of flavor and they did just that.
I've used mustard seeds in a variety of spice blends for rubs and bouquet garni but never as a garnish for a protein like fish. I had no idea these tiny seeds (1 - 2 millimeters) would double in size after boiling in water.
A Little Mustard History
Mustard seeds go way back in time. I read they have been referenced all they way back to the fifth century BC in India from a story of Buddha. In the bible, the mustard seed is mentioned in both Luke and Matthew.
The largest countries to produce mustard seeds are Canada, Nepal, Myanmar, Russia, Ukraine, China and the United States. The US produced 16,660 metric tons of mustard seeds in 2015 compared to Canada who produced 154,500. That's a lot of mustard!
Patience Is A Virtue
I'll warn you up front, to make these pickled mustard seeds takes time. Most of that time comes in the form of cooking down 5 cups of water used to pickle them.
There was a point when I was preparing these seeds that I thought this damn water was never going to reduce in time to serve with the rest of the meal.
I was even prepared to leave it out of the meal but I'm glad I didn't. It took a while but when the liquids started to thicken up, it happened very quickly and was worth the wait.
Pickled Mustard Seeds Recipe
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 5 cups water
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat up a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat and add the mustard seeds. Toast the seeds until they become fragrant. This takes about 2 minutes.
- Either stir or shake the pan to keep the seeds from burning. If burnt, throw them out and start over again.
- Once toasted, add the water, sugar and vinegar. Season with a little salt and pepper and stir all the ingredients to combine.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil and continue cooking until the mustard seeds double in size and the water cooks down to a thickened liquid. This can take 25 - 35 minutes.Be sure to give the liquid a stir occasionally.
- When you get close to the end and the liquid is reduced but just not thickened to the desired consistency, start paying close attention. There is sugar in the liquid so it will get very syrupy before you know it.
- After 30 plus minutes of waiting for this to cook down, you will be surprised at how quickly the liquid reduces in these final minutes. Don't get caught napping.You'll know when you are at the right consistency when the liquid is cooked down to a syrupy viscosity.
- Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the pickled mustard seeds to another bowl for serving.