With all the hoopla over foraging, you’d think it was a new thing. But Pascal Baudar has been scouring the Southland for wild plants for years. His found ingredients have appeared on the menus of chefs Ludo Lefebvre, Josiah Citrin, Ari Taymor, Michael Voltaggio, CJ Jacobson and Niki Nakayama. Baudar also has an extraordinary new book out called “The New Wildcrafted Cuisine: Exploring the Exotic Gastronomy of Local Terroir.”
He and I recently discussed “The New Wildcrafted Cuisine” and the ingredients he’s finding in the field now, from wooly bluecurls to California sage brush and bay laurel leaves. Our conversation brought to mind a jar of Pascal’s mustard I eked out for ages so it would last. It’s time for me to try my hand at his recipe for Black Mustard Seed Mustard.
Even if you will never forage, his book is fodder for the mind; it’s fascinating and illuminating. And if you live in SoCal think about taking a class with him. They’re a real treat.
In Southern California, black mustard (Brassica nigra) greens can be foraged locally between the months of February and April, although the seeds don’t ripen until about June or July. To thoroughly dehydrate them, Pascal stores them in paper bags before transferring them to tightly closed jars. The dried seeds are milder in flavor.
Black mustard greens and flowers have a wasabi-like bite that Pascal says “is sure to open your sinuses and make your eyes water — it’s that strong!” If you do eat the greens raw, do so sparingly, as you may experience some discomfort. Instead, he suggests incorporating them in small amounts in raw spicy sauces or salad dressings.
And as with fresh herbs, you can always blend the fresh leaves with water to create a paste and freeze it in ice cube trays for later use.
Black Mustard Seed Mustard
Pascal uses homemade vinegar, raw honey, foraged mustard seeds and sea salt for this recipe, but he says store-bought will do just fine if you don’t have access to wild ingredients. For best results, use a molcajete (a Mexican mortar-and-pestle) to grind the ingredients together.
⅓ cup (45 g) black mustard seeds
¼ cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
¼ cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup (80 ml) white wine
2 teaspoons (12 g) honey or sugar
1½ teaspoons (9 g) salt
Prepare the seeds: Place the seeds in a mortar and add some of the vinegars and wine. Grind for 2 to 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
For the mustard: Add more wine and vinegar, grind and allow the mixture to rest again for another 5 minutes. Repeat this process about three or four times, then add the honey (or sugar) and salt. Taste and adjust the ingredients accordingly, if you prefer your mustard more acidic or more salty.
Fresh mustard is quite bitter so you’ll need to age it for 2 or 3 days prior to serving. Transfer the contents into a clean jar and let it age in the refrigerator. The seeds will continue to expand, and you may want to add more wine, vinegar or water to obtain the consistency that you desire.
To store: This black mustard seed mustard should last for many weeks in the refrigerator.