Reportedly the world’s fastest growing condiment, the mellow yellow mustard with which we all grew up is growing up itself. And what better way to celebrate its transition to adulthood than with a day of its own: National Mustard Day, celebrated on the first Saturday of August!
Once the bland bastion of ballparks, backyard barbecues or the spread-of-choice for the lunchbox bologna-and-white bread sandwich (pass the chips, please!), gourmet brands are exploding with robust flavors and heartier textures. In fact they’re finding their way into all manner of appetizers, salads, main dishes, breads— even cocktails and desserts.
Reportedly accumulating upwards of $500 million in sales in 2013, mustard still trails the ubiquitous ketchup by about $250 million but is climbing fast due to its no or low calorie global appeal and great versatility. At the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin, nearly 5,600 mustards from all 50 states and more than 70 countries are available for viewing, some for tasting, and many for purchase. Incepted in 1986 with only a dozen varieties, the museum features everything from “sweet hot” to herb to fruit-infused mustards from all parts of the globe and plays a key role in the region’s National Mustard Day celebration.
According to historical accounts, the Chinese, Greeks, and practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine have used mustard seeds for centuries as a healing herb, aiding in the resolution of gastric and digestive issues, rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica (for its anti-inflammatory properties), and to treat chest colds and coughs in the form of mustard plasters made from seed pods.
Modern mustards contain ground powder from the turmeric plant—usually for color. Part of the curcumin family, turmeric is said to help treat cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, allergies, arthritis and other chronic diseases. Today’s more adventurous varieties have added bacon bits, sweet or hot peppers, caramelized onions – even dried cranberries. Coarse, creamy, fruity, fragrant, nutty, grainy, pungent or mild, contemporary mustards are used in creative cuisine to infuse foods (and drinks!) with palate-piquing flavor.
At British Columbia’s Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort, a house cocktail – the Sinapis Alba – contains a dash of mustard and is “rimmed with crusted mustard seeds.” At a dining establishment in France, mustard is available on tap to complement charcuterie. In some instances, connoisseurs are dunking fries in mustard (gotta save those calories where you can!) instead of higher fat and calorie condiment cousins like ketchup, tartar sauce or mayonnaise.
Whatever your predilection, these mustardy recipes will add fun and flavor to your meals on National Mustard Day and beyond.
Easy Baked Salmon with Mustard and Mayonnaise
2 lbs. salmon fillet
2 cups mayonnaise
½ cup Dijon or grainy mustard
Parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix mayonnaise, mustard, and parsley together and spread evenly over fish. Mixture will be thick. Sprinkle with paprika and parmesan cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes. Note: mixture on top increases cooking time, but be sure to check fish for doneness as it may require a little less or a little more time. Serves 6-8.
Honey Mustard Cream
(yes – why not mustard for dessert!)
1 envelope (1/4 oz.) unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
thin orange slices
In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan, mix gelatin and mustard. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water and the grated orange peel. Let stand about 5 minutes, then stir over high heat until boiling, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk in honey, yogurt, cream, and vanilla until smooth. Pour mixture equally into 6 custard cups or soufflé dishes (6 oz. size). Chill until firm, about 3 hours.
Garnish desserts with orange slices and serve; or cover tightly and chill up to one day, then garnish.