Ever thought of putting mustard in your dessert? Well, now’s the time. Harry Lalousis, aka mustard sommelier, aka the mustard man, is about to blow your mind.
You may only think of mustard as a condiment -- as the mustard to your hotdog, or the mustard to your cheese toast -- but Lalousis is here to tell you that mustard is a wonderful ingredient with the power of intensifying flavour in savoury and sweet dishes. You can even add to it cocktails.
“It’s an ingredient to me, not a condiment -- I use it everywhere,” Maille mustard sommelier Harry Lalousis told The Huffington Post Australia.
Born and raised in Brisbane by Greek-Italian parents and with a chef background, Harry Lalousis is only one of three highly trained mustard sommeliers in the world. In other words, he really knows his stuff.
“I got into it deeply because it interests me so much,” Lalousis said.
“The best way I can describe it is foraging in a forest with your kids, and just exploring this and that and finding new things.”
After intensive training in Dijon, France, Lalousis was approached by French brand, Maille, to open the first London mustard boutique which he “jumped at the opportunity”.
"For me, the training never ends -- there’s always something to learn and every day I find a different way to use the mustard,” Lalousis said.
How mustard is made
“Mustard is based on the mustard seed,” Lalousis said. “You have the white, brown and black mustard seeds. They all produce -- in reaction to the vinegar, wine or alcohol you will add -- a different intensity and acidity.”
Due to their bitterness, black mustard seeds are primarily used in cooking, but it’s the white (also known as yellow) and brown mustard seed that work their magic in mustard.
“The brown seed is a pungent seed but it’s also quite subtle in the taste -- it’s not as bitter as white mustard seed,” Lalousis said.
Although mustard has many faces -- from American yellow mustard to sweet and spicy German mustards to Italian fruit mustard -- according to Lalousis, these stem from three traditional mustard varieties.
“A classic English mustard is made with white mustards seeds that is powdered down and added with water,” Lalousis said. “Because of this you have the raw mustard seed, so when you put it on your palette, it’s going to hit you right at the front of your tongue.”
“The minute it has contact with your taste buds, it kind of explodes and you get that really strong heat that goes through your nose and makes your eyes water.”
According to Lalousis, an English mustard is more considered to be used as a condiment on, say, a sausage, steak, hotdog or in a burger.
“That’s because when you cook with it, it leaves a distinct flavour in the cooking,” Lalousis said. “Unless you’re making a very specific mustard dish, like mustard and beer chicken, it will leave a really strong bitter flavour from the mustard. So it’s not thoroughly used in cooking.”
French Dijon mustard
“To make Dijon mustard it’s basically three ingredients: white wine, the brown mustard seed and salt,” Lalousis said. “You soak the seeds into the white wine and grind or cut them.”
“Maille make the mustard by cutting the seed and using wine from Dijon. By cutting we have least penetration into the flavour and it doesn’t change the molecule.”
According to Lalousis, the French mustard is the variety preferred by chefs in their cooking due to the way the mustard pushes out flavour in a dish.
“When you add it to cooking it kinds of ferments with the wine so the bitterness is evaporated, more or less,” Lalousis. “It will intensify the flavour and the pungency will disappear, and you’ll be left with an intensified dish that doesn’t taste like mustard, but the ingredients you added.”
“Then you have the wholegrain mustard, which is basically just crushed mustard seed with wine (in the French case) and salt,” Lalousis said.
The wholegrain is a newer form of mustard and also comes as a hybrid.
“You can have a mix of those two, which is a bit of a smooth and a bit of a wholegrain -- it just gives you a little bit more substance.”
Along with these three main varieties are many intriguing flavours, which are infused into the mustard base. Imagine raspberry and basil mustard, and pistachio, orange and white wine mustard.
“For infused mustard it’s always a Dijon original base,” Lalousis said.
“Once you have that, every ingredient you add to it will infuse on its own -- mustard will grab the flavours because it doesn’t like foreign agents in it, so by not liking something else inside it, what it does is pushes it out.”
Never thought to add mustard to desserts and cocktails? Neither did we, until now.
“The reason why I use it everywhere, even in desserts and cocktails, is because mustard intensifies flavour by tenfold,” Lalousis said. “If you put a teaspoon of Dijon in any dish, it will bring out all the flavours in the dish and intensify what you’re using.”
“What you can do is mix a mustard with mascarpone cheese and icing sugar,” Lalousis said. “I quite like using raspberry and basil mustard --it infuses the mascarpone cheese with the flavours of the raspberry and basil, rather than the mustard."
"It’s the mustard behind doing all the work.”
“We have a mustard that is gingerbread and chestnut honey,” Lalousis said. “I like to use that on a semifreddo and I make a salty caramel sauce.”
“This is what is brilliant about using mustard in desserts -- it’s cuts through that sweetness and balances a dessert,” Lalousis said.
“In the boutiques we have the Chablis white wine mustard and truffle, it’s gorgeous,” Lalousis said. “If you take a teaspoon and mix it with whisky, honey and lime juice, trust me -- you will never be able to drink whisky with ginger ale again.”
Adding a sweeter mustard to a creamy topping can take waffles to whole other level.
“If you do waffles, you can just mix a teaspoon of blackcurrant mustard with some cream and pour it on top,” Lalousis said.
“You can also do it with savoury pancakes -- you layer the pancakes with Gruyere cheese and put it in the oven for 10 minutes for the cheese to melt," Lalousis said. "In the meantime, mix cream with the blackcurrant mustard and then pour the mixture over the pancakes when they come out of the oven."
“The pancakes absorb all that flavour so you’ve got a beautiful, savoury layered pancake."
“My favourite is the honey mustard and my best way to use it is to smear a puff pastry sheet with mustard and top with Gruyere, Comté or mozzarella cheese and then salami or prosciutto,” Lalousis said.
“Then you just roll it up in a log, cut it in finger-thick slices and put them face down on a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil.”
“When you bake it they come out as savoury Danishes, so when you bite into it you get the lovely melted cheese and the beautiful honey mustard that complements and intensifies all the the flavours.”