Great ingredients make for great meals. Whenever you can, use the highest quality supplies for your recipes. The flavor difference will always come through in your finished dish.
If there is an ingredient that you are not familiar with, check our Ingredient section. There are pages and pages of information about the ingredients used in my recipes.
Mustard is one of those condiments that most folks take for granted. Most of us have at least a jar of yellow mustard in the fridge for sandwiches, burgers and the like. There is, however, a world beyond French's prepared mustard that can add so much to your cooking. Having great quality mustards on hand means you can almost always create a great dish with only a few ingredients.
Prepared mustards are made from powdered mustard seeds traditionally combined with vinegar and water. Some mustards will contain a wide variety of ingredients including oil, wine, beer and sugar and a number of different spices.
Mustards start with one of three types of mustard seeds – white, brown or black. The flavor of white mustard seeds is bitter, while brown and black mustard seeds are piquant and spicier. Yellow mustard like French's is made with white mustard seeds to give it that zippy flavor. The yellow color actually comes from the addition of turmeric.
Most European and Asian mustards are made with brown mustard seeds. The flavor ranges from the mellow Dijon style mustards of the French to the hot spicy Chinese mustards. These are blended into textures from smooth to coarse. While mustard seeds are spicy the spicier mustards get their heat from other ingredients including chili peppers and horseradish.
Keeping a jar of great quality mustard on hand means that you will always have the foundation for a good meal. I always have a smooth piquant Dijon style, a coarse ground mustard and a hot Chinese mustard on hand. They can be used for so many great dishes. The Chinese mustard works well in stir frys and Asian recipes. I love Dijon or coarse ground mustards in creamy sauces. Always start with less mustard and add a little more after tasting since there can be a wide variation in flavor between different brands. Purchase a brand that you know and like to keep on hand and your dishes will be more consistent.
Mustards can vary widely in the amount of fat and salt that they contain. The fat content is generally not as much of an issue as you will likely not be using enough to add significant calories. Many can contain a great deal of salt, however, so check the label carefully. This is the nutrition information from one of my favorite Dijon style mustards:
1 teaspoon mustard = 10 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g monounsaturated fat, 0 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, 65 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
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