This hot mustard sauce passes the zest test

Mustard in a glass jar, spoon and bowl. / Photo credit: Getty Images/iStock/Olesia Shadrina

Of all the American-Chinese sauces I've made to jazz up a meal, hot mustard was by far the easiest - and most fascinating. Four simple ingredients, and you're done.

You know how tasteless those little mustard packets are - the kind you get with your Chinese dinner? Most taste like cardboard. Seriously. They have no heat or flavor to speak of, unless you like cardboard, that is.

This recipe for mustard sauce carries some heat, but it's not overpowering.

So how does this happen? I'm no food scientist, but in fairly simple terms: Mustard has an enzyme called myrosinase, which smashes organic compounds called glucosinolates into chemical compounds called isothiocyanates when combined with cold liquid, in this case, white vinegar. Together, the reaction produces the characteristic heat of hot mustard. The amount of heat produced is dependent on the type of mustard seeds, some being hotter than others.

My preference is the easiest to find - Colman's English Mustard. It's not as hot as others, and when sugar is added, it makes any hot mustard just a little sweeter. It's the perfect balance of flavor.

Once you make this at home, you'll have a hard time going back to those little Chinese takeout packets. I usually have this sauce on hand in the refrigerator for other foods, too. It's good on burgers, slathered on ham sandwiches, excellent served with medallions of grilled pork tenderloin or any place mustard is needed. Make some today, and it'll take you into grilling season. Once chilled, it will stay good for two to three months.

Hot Sweet Mustard

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 4-ounce or two 2-ounce tins Colman's mustard powder (no substitute)

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup honey

3 large eggs, beaten

Whisk brown sugar and mustard powder in a large bowl to combine. Add vinegar and honey; whisk well. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large metal bowl. Add eggs, and whisk until blended.

Set bowl with mustard mixture over a large saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water; eggs may scramble). Cook, whisking and scraping bottom of bowl constantly, until mustard is thick and a thermometer registers 160 degrees and covers the back of a spoon, 5-10 minutes. Divide mustard among jars, and chill. It will firm up a bit as it chills.


This weekend marks the opening of two of Chattanooga's favorite farmers markets: Chattanooga River Market and the popular Collegedale Market.

The River Market will be held 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays on the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza, March 12-13. Now in its 10th season, the market will again feature lots of local foods both days. On Saturdays, there will be a free morning yoga class as well as a local food truck on-site throughout the day. Live music will add to the festive atmosphere as we welcome spring. Social-distancing guidelines will be followed.

The Collegedale Market will reopen Sunday, March 14, at The Commons. Hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The majority of vendors, with their farm-fresh produce, meats and cheeses, will be stationed outdoors for social distancing. Several regional artists will attend, too.

Don't forget your masks - you won't get in without them.


Oyster hour is back at Easy Bistro's bar and raw bar every afternoon from 4 to 5 p.m. What that means for oyster lovers is that chef Erik Niel and his team will be offering buy-one-get-one-free oysters on all six varieties from Alabama, Florida and British Columbia.

I look forward to giving them a try and also checking out the new restaurant in its new location at 801 Chestnut St.

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photo Anne Braly