Bon Appetit Wednesday! Chilled Stone Crab Claws With Mustard Sauce

Variations of mustard.

Variations of mustard.

Equally as comfortable on a hotdog at the ballpark as it is on the tables of the finest French restaurants, mustard is a true renaissance condiment. Today we’re bringing you the ancient history of mustard and a delectable modern recipe that’s perfect for the summer. The unusual pairing of stone crab claws with a spicy mustard sauce will surprise your dinner guests and delight your palate. And while you dine you can dazzle with fun facts about the ancient roots of mustard.

The main ingredient of mustard is, of course, the mustard seed, and like so many other plants and herbs in ancient times, it was originally used not only as a food product, but also as a healing agent. Evidence of its use in Egypt was found when a massive amount of seeds were discovered inside of a 12th dynasty tomb.[1] The Egyptians popped the seeds in their mouths along with a bit of meat. The ancient Greeks preferred to use mustard seeds medicinally. Pythagoras, the Greek scientist, treated scorpion stings in the 6th century BCE and Hippocrates, the great Greek physician, created mustard plasters and poultices to cure toothaches and other health issues.[2] But even before these healers put it to work, the mustard seed had even earlier origins.  A bag of seeds was uncovered at the Bronze Age Greek archaeological site of Marmariani.[3]

It was the Romans who truly embraced mustard as a condiment and that is where we get our modern word mustard. It comes from the Latin mustum ardens, which literally means burning must. The term refers to the Roman practice of mixing the spicy ground mustard seeds with unfermented grape juice known as must.[4] And the Romans didn’t stop at this simple recipe. They embellished their mustard and created new complex condiments. A recipe for mustard in Apicius, the Roman cookbook from the 4th or 5th century CE, combines the powdered tiny seed with pepper, caraway, lovage, grilled coriander seeds, dill, celery, thyme, oregano, onion, honey, vinegar, fish sauce and oil before slathering it on a spit-roasted boar.[5]

The Romans transported mustard all over the empire and it was extremely popular, especially when it made its way to Gaul where the monks began making the condiment. By the 13th century, France had become the center of mustard-making. In the 14th century, Pope John XII of Avignon was so enamored with mustard that he used it with all of his food and even created the title of “Mustard Maker to the Pope.”[6] In 1336, at a festival thrown by the Duke of Burgundy, 70 gallons of mustard were eaten at one single dinner.[7]

Today, there are numerous kinds of mustard to suit every taste and spice preference. Manufactured around the world, mustard flavors and appearances vary to suit the country and cuisine in which the condiment is made. It also continues to be used medicinally for chest congestion.

Whether you enjoy a simple yellow mustard on your hot dog or a spicy Dijon on your ham, take time to explore this ancient sauce and you’re sure to discover new ways to appreciate its flavor.

Chilled Stone Crab Claws with Mustard Sauce

125-57_Chilled_Stone_Crab_Claws_with_Mustard_Sauce_250*Recipe courtesy of Saveur.com

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1⁄4 cup of prepared yellow mustard
  • 1⁄4 cup of prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon of hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 32 large stone crab claws, chilled

Instructions

  1. Make the mustard sauce by mixing together mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, hot sauce, and lemon juice in a bowl.
  2. Crack shells of stone crab claws with a hammer or the dull side of a cleaver. Serve with mustard sauce and lemon wedges.

[1] Dalby, A. (2000). Dangerous tastes: the story of spices. Berkeley: University of California Press.

[2] Mustard History – Mustard as Medicine and Food. (n.d.). About.com Home Cooking. Retrieved May8, 2014, from http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/mustardhistory.htm

[3] Dalby, A. (2000). Dangerous tastes: the story of spices. Berkeley: University of California Press.

[4] http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/mustardhistory.htm

[5] Antol, Marie Nadine. The Incredible Secrets of Mustard: The Quintessential Guide to the History, Lore, Varieties, and Healthful Benefits of Mustard. Avery Publishing Group, 1999 ISBN 0-89529-920-8

[6] . (n.d.). . Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://www.dressings-sauces.org/marvelous-mustard

[7] Ibid.

2 responses to “Bon Appetit Wednesday! Chilled Stone Crab Claws With Mustard Sauce

  1. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! National Herbs and Spices Day | AntiquityNOW

  2. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! National Seafood Month | AntiquityNOW

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