Make wildcrafted mustard like Pascal Baudar

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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.

2000 Pascal Baudard by Mia Wasilevich
Professional forager Pascal Baudar in his natural environment. (Photo by Mia Wasilevich) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

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
Foraged and made from scratch, Pascal says you can’t buy mustard with this much flavor at the store. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)