My buddy Joe Jerome had us over for some wine and a bite to eat the other day, pretty casual. He’s a member of a few wine clubs in the Santa Barbara area so when he needed some help “tasting” them we headed over. Not much tasting went on – we ploughed through six bottles between four of us! Not the reason for the blog, although if I remember what I drank and how it/they tasted I’ll fill you in.
Mustard & Wine
I didn’t know Joe was into cooking but I was pleasantly surprised. Again it was supposed to be about the wine but he went all out with an array of food such as Irish smoked salmon, roasted red and golden beets (leaves and all in some olive oil and wine-damn good), pan seared scallops and silver snapper with white beans. It was all simple, tasty and unexpected.
Finally the reason I’m telling you all this, he brought out this bottle of mustard seed oil with some french bread. It turns out wine wasn’t the only thing we were tasting. This oil was full of punch like I’d never tasted before, unless I shoveled in a spoonful of Dijon mixed with horseradish. Ok, maybe not that severe but it had kick, especially the after taste.
After the wine had worn off I decided to look into it more. Good mustard seed oil is pungent, very pungent almost to the extreme of bringing tears to your eyes when smelling it. It has the lowest saturated fat content of all edible oils at 5%. Primarily it’s used in Indian cooking, particularly in Bengali cooking. Though this oil can be used as a dip like we had it, it’s generally heated almost to smoking before used for cooking to eliminate toxins and is mainly used for flavouring a finished dish. It’s great to finish off fish stews or curries. Worth noting though, the flavor and smell are really reduced when heated.
Besides cooking you can actually use it for massaging your body and hair. Though this is more prevalent in Northern India, you may notice a “for massage use only” label on the bottle. This is an FDA regulation. They’ve deemed mustard oil unfit for human consumption. Wikipedia explains why. Most people ignore this. It’s the same in Canada where a “for external use only” disclaimer is on their labels.
Though I probably won’t be using it to massage my head, I’m quite excited about trying it in my food. Now the trick is finding it….