Fisherman’s Mustard

Moutarde du Pêcheur

My parents took a short vacation to Brittany a few weeks ago, to Carnac-Of-The-Many-Happy-Childhood-Memories, and to Belle-Île, a breathtakingly beautiful island (or so I’m told) a few miles off the Atlantic coast, where a dear friend of theirs now lives.

Brittany, as I’ve mentioned before, is home to dozens of yummilicious food specialties, and one of the souvenirs they ever-so-kindly brought me back is this little jar of Moutarde du Pêcheur (translated on the label into a straightforward “The Mustard of the Fisherman”), a mustard flavored with seaweed and salicornes from Guérande.

Salicornes (glasswort in English) are these wild little plants that grow in salt marshes. They are hand-picked at the beginning of the summer, to be pickled in vinegar and enjoyed as a condiment or in salads. They look like tiny branches of an army green shade, and their texture and taste are a bit like those of seaweed, but they belong in fact to the succulent plant category.

I was happy to learn on this occasion that before it got to mean “tasty”, the word succulent simply meant “full of juice”, or in the case of a plant “having fleshy tissues that conserve moisture”. So next time, before you say “Hmm, that roast chicken is succulent!”, think for a moment and maybe opt to say instead “Hmm, that roast chicken has fleshy tissues that conserve moisture!”. See how pleased your mother-in-law will be.

So far this pretty freckled mustard, chock-full of iodine flavors, has successfully served as a condiment with fish (well of course) and also mixed with tuna for a quick yet fabulous sandwich spread. The label’s other suggestions include using it with grilled meats, in papillottes, in salads or to make mayonnaise.

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  • Anthony

    Glasswort (Salicornia europaea) is also called Marsh Samphire. You can also get Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum). One of the two is, apprently, much tastier than the other. Sadly I can’t remember which one.

  • usa

    [Comment clipped. Reason : lack of common courtesy.]

  • Ed Donovan

    I’m not sure who “usa” is, but I can assure you that many of us are interested in your mustard discussions, idiotic Americans aside. I cannot eat today, because the election made me feel like I’ve been kicked repeatedly in the stomach. But when I do, I’d love to get some of this mustard. Is it available in the US?

  • pie

    Maybe we can fill some balloons with seaweed mustard and drop them on the White House!

  • Maybe USA was George Bush himself, killing time while they tallied the votes. If anyone is a moutarde it’s him.

    Anyway, I was going to say, thank-you for writing about Brittany. I’m planning a trip to the region next summer, just to see a particular house on a particular island. (I’m always very specific when I travel), and hadn’t even thought about the food I might encounter. Now something else to look forward to.

  • apparently, that person must have had too much time to kill when the world is down in flames, if he/she had to surf the net and waste time in idle talk.

    Clotilde, I like seaweed in general but never had salicornia… interesting!

  • max the canadian

    hi i have been enjoying your writing for some time and glasswort just made me write to you.
    firstly, to thank you for your always interesting entries
    and also for reminding me of the wonderful memory taste experience of glasswort.
    in canada, at least on the west coast, it is also known as sea asparagus. i had it in a wonderful salad at WICKANINNISH RESTAURANT at Long Beach, in Pacific Rim National park on the west coast of Vancouver Island as a bald eagle cirlced lazily over the beach and restaurant.

    A spot i would recomend to everyone. But don’t all come at once, as it is a wilderness area, where fortunately world class chefs love to live !

    thanks again for bringing back such a lovely memory.

  • Ford

    Still loving C&Z, and glad to hear that you had fun celebrating its birthday.

    I was interested to see that the meaning of succulent varies. In the UK is still means juicy, so is usually only used to describe cooked meat, fruit, and veg. I’m assuming that elsewhere in the anglophone world its meaning is more general ?

  • that’s really interesting. thank you for sharing. i didn’t know seaweed could go into mustard.

    i also wanted to say that you have a really good blog, and you take wonderful pics of the foods you prepare :)

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