Flavor of the Month: Pickled Mustard Seeds

It’s a seedy business.

Move over, Dijon. Mustard fans are saving all their love these days for plump and tangy pickled mustard seeds. With a hint of sweetness, the seeds are beloved by chefs for the balance they bring to lush dishes, and the gentle “pop” they deliver in the mouths of unsuspecting diners. Sometimes referred to as mustard caviar, the garnish looks and behaves texturally like its pickled-roe namesake, without the staggering price tag. At Rook, the seeds have lent an acidic bump to a piping-hot bowl of Tinola ramen with crispy chicken rillettes. In the short-rib tartare at Vida, they accompany creamy fermented black-garlic mayonnaise, caper berries, crispy shallots, and a soft quail egg. A rich, beet-cured trout at Plow & Anchor gets a zingy assist from a mustard-seed garnish, with herbed sour cream and fennel fronds. And, lest you think entrees get all the mustard-seed attention, Milktooth pastry chef Zoe Taylor uses them in a lamb-stew danish with minty creme fraiche, proving that even puff pastry can benefit from a tart crunch.