From sweet to spicy - a multitude of mustards from around the world

October 22 2019

Mustard is a condiment with great versatility and variety, which gives chefs welcome scope to experiment and try out different ways of incorporating this ingredient, with its instantly recognizable flavor, into a range of dishes.

Countries and regions across the globe have embraced mustard and put their own spin on it. Here are some of the most interesting and delicious uses of one of the world's favorite condiments:

Dijon mustard

Let's start with arguably the most famous mustard of all. Dijon mustard originated in the French city after which it's named in 1856, when Jean Naigeon replaced the usual ingredient of vinegar with the acidic juice of unripened grapes.

Today, most Dijon mustard is manufactured in other locations, but there are still mustard factories in Dijon and nearby towns. However, the substantial majority of the mustard seeds used for production in France and around the world come from Canada, particularly Saskatchewan.

British honey mustard

The sweet, rich flavor of honey goes beautifully with the traditionally hot, pungent taste of mustard. Fusing these ingredients together creates a distinctive combination that can be used as a dip for finger foods or family favorites like chicken strips, or mixed with vinegar or olive oil to make a salad dressing.

In Britain, English mustard is often combined with honey - or possibly brown sugar - to create a coating for lamb cutlets or pork chops.

Bavarian sweet mustard

The Bavaria region of southern Germany developed another way of adding a welcome dash of sweetness to mustard, mixing kibbled mustard seed with sugar, apple sauce or honey.

The resulting creation is often served with German favorites like 'weisswurst' (white sausage) - a traditional Bavarian sausage made from minced veal and pork back bacon, usually flavored with parsley, lemon, onions, ginger and cardamom.

Sweet mustard also makes a good accompaniment to 'leberkase' (literally 'liver cheese'), a specialty food from southern Germany made by grinding beef, pork and bacon into a fine consistency and creating a loaf that is then baked in a bread pan.

Japanese spicy mustard

If you're looking to put an Asian twist on your cuisine, why not try 'karashi', a spicy mustard popular in Japan that can be used as a condiment or a seasoning. It is made from the crushed seeds of the Brassica juncea species of the mustard plant.

Karashi can be incorporated into your cooking in various ways, potentially as a dipping sauce when mixed with mayonnaise, or with vinegar and miso.

It is often served alongside dishes like 'tonkatsu', which consists of breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet, and 'shumai', a type of traditional Chinese dumpling.

Italian fruit mustards

It's thought that fruit and mustard were first combined in the Italian region of Lombardy in the 14th century. Dukes from Milan enjoyed a combination of meat and game with a rich mixture of fruit preserved in a sweet, hot mustard syrup.

Today, there are many variations of fruit mustard, such as apple mustard, a local favorite in Mantua, which is traditionally very hot. At the milder end of the taste spectrum are quince mustard, which looks similar to jam, and cherry mustard.

Examining its uses around the world makes it clear that mustard has the potential to be incorporated into pretty much anything, from savory dishes demanding full, powerful flavors to sweet desserts that need a unique, tangy twist.