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Mustard as Condiment for Fried Fish

Hi There,

I am wondering about Mustard use as a condiment in fried fish. Is this something that originated in the Soul Food Era, or is it something people have done all over the world for many years.

I am an army brat and have thus lived in California, Minnesota, Texas, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Florida, but I ask people at restaurants for Mustard for my fried fish and they look at me as if I am crazy!

My friend and I recentlty went out to eat and he saw me dipping beer battered fish in Mustard and he laughed, and asked the waitress if she had ever heard of anyone doing this, and if it was just a down ssouth thing.

Please help me any way you can with some answers. Is this just something my Dad used and liked or does it have some (any) kind of past history.

Thank you for your time in this matter.

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  1. My gut reaction is a remoulade/tartar sauce gone horribly wrong with repeated iterations...

    But then there's this from way Down Under:

    So perhaps there is some history there. :)

    1. I've spent all of my "resident" years split between MS and TX, have eaten fried fish most everywhere in the continental US except for the great NW. Generally, it's been presented with a mayo based sauce or red/ketchup based sauce.

      But within the last year, I've had "fish and chips" at 2 different restaurants (one in Ft. Worth, the other Dallas) and have been presented with a mustard based sauce. It's new to me and not to my liking, but that's why God made lemon and ketchup.

      1. Ms Paula Deen, Flower of the South, made fried halibut sandwiches yesterday. She finished by smearing a mayo-mustard concoction over the fish before topping w/tomato and onions. Hope this helps.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sarah

          It helps me to continue keeping my distance from Ms. Deen and all of her works. Heaven knows I'm probably as nuts for mayonnaise as she is, but this crusade she's on to make every dish as fattening as possible (why? So we can all look like her?) is not something we should be encouraging.

          That said, mustard on fish sandwiches isn't bad at all, and my aversion to ketchup in most applications would make me okay with it in the case of fish & chips. However, I usually view a F&C meal as my excuse to beg extra tartar sauce, because I love it on French fries, so I won't insist on sharing your mustard. You can have it all.

          1. re: Will Owen

            i'd eat that halibut....just for the hal-i-but! ;-)

            tartar sauce is remoulade without the mustard (well, sort of, sideways). remoulade is great on just about anything!

            but, being from the south, i must say that i've never seen people using mustard alone on fried fish. i'd think the mustard as a dipping sauce would really overwhelm the flavor of the fish.

        2. Not with fried fish, but we do a baked fish recipe now and again. White fish such as cod, haddock or, for a more sustainable fish, coley or pollock.

          Smear with grain mustard, top with breadcrumbs and bake. It'll never win first prize in a fish recipe competition, but it's not bad.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Harters

            I would expect Bengali cooks to be weighhing in with fish recipes, there's a famous dish of fish fillets coated in mustard seed and fried (have recipe from my sister-in-law who's from Kolkata).

            1. re: Harters

              Ive had something similar, though without the breadcrumbs and I thought it was absolutely delicious! Though Ill eat mustard on almost anything.

              1. re: Harters

                I do a grainy mustard sauce with baked salmon all the time. Its definitely a good combination.

                1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                  Same here, but I never thought about putting it on fried fish. I'll definitely try it the next time I have fried catfish - sounds kinda yummy.

                  1. re: cycloneillini

                    you don't need to use to much when you dip though. just a tiny bit on each bite and believe it or not it really brings out the flavors and makes the fish pop in your mouth. please let me know what you think after you try it. I am very pleased regarding the amount of helpful replies I've received. I like this site and will be back in a few days with the historical answer to my question direct from my mom

              2. I don't know about mustard as dipping sauce; I've never seen it, though I have had a good fish sandwich smeared with a mustard-y tartar sauce that was quite tasty. However, my dear departed dad, who was an avid fisherman and loved fried fish best of all, always marinated his fillets in French's yellow mustard and a spicy vinaigrette made with olive oil and red wine vinegar (standard supermarket quality) for a little while before breading and deep frying them. But the condiments passed at table were always ketchup, tartar sauce, and lemon wedges. While I might turn my foodie nose up at such a marinade were it not so laden with nostalgia, I remember Dad's fried fish as being fantastic. Maybe it was the mustard!

                12 Replies
                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  interesting marinade! i'll try it! what kind of fish did your dad use it on?

                  speaking of mustard...ming tsai's guest chef said that she keeps a pepper grinder with only mustard and fennel seeds to use on all kinds of dishes. i think it would be good on marinated fish....

                  hmmmm....we may be on to a plan.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Speckled trout--though I realize "trout" does not mean the same thing elsewhere. (We're south Louisianaians.) But also catfish, drum, (sea)bream. I'm not an expert on fish, but realize we have a separate nomenclature in these parts. So I don't always know how the names we use translate to others.

                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                      i don't know drum, but those fish are not oily fish, right?

                      i'm thinking that marinade might actually enhance the sweetness of the fish....

                      now i've really got to try that.

                      i have some swordfish to marinate tomorrow, and was planning on a lebanese style marinade, with lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, a red pepper. now, i'll just try some red wine vinegar instead of the lemon juice, and maybe some french's -- or crushed mustard seeds. maybe i'll do the seeds on one filet, and the french's on the other, to compare.

                      did he use a cornmeal-flour dusting, or a wet batter-type breading? or a dredge in egg, roll in cracker crumbs deal? thanks.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        No they weren't oily fish. Dad dredged the fillets, wet from the marinade, in a cornmeal-flour mix. They were tasty.

                        Your swordfish sounds as though it would be good, But you're not frying that--or are you?

                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                          well, i did today, in a wet flour cornmeal mix.
                          my tummy is telling me about it now. more later....

                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            nomadchowwoman, i marinated the swordfish filets in french's mustard and red wine vinegar. i did add a little lemon juice.

                            i was going to make it last night, but we ended up eating something else. so i took it out tonight, removed the little bit of skin and the dark area of the fish, then sliced in "fingers" about 1" wide. then i dipped them in the batter and fried them up, serving them with a wild rice pilaf. it was very tasty, and mr. alka loved the fish. when i asked, he said it didn't taste like mustard, and was nice and firm.

                            next time, i'd not batter it, but simply sauté it in the marinade, like i've done with my "lebanese-style" swordfish.

                            thanks for the tip!

                            ps, the "tummy" thing i alluded to just above was related, i think now, to my dessert of "light" banana cream pie yogurt. never. again.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Interesting. I have never had swordfish batter-fried, which was why I asked the question in the earlier post, but your way sounds like it was tasty. (I must confess I've had few fried things I didn't find tasty.) Glad you're feeling better!

                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                um...don't batter fry swordfish fingers. ;-)). i only fried it because of YOU! (hey, no problem, you didn't know).

                                and thanks for well wishes. light yogurt dessert after fried swordfish fingers -- not a match made in heaven, i tell ya'.

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Sorry for the confusion. My dad fried only fish he caught, always small (compared to swordfish). I'd never heard of anyone frying swordfish, thought maybe you were on to something!

                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                    well, i never fried fish like swordfish, either -- until this dish. if i fry, it's typically grouper that my nephew has caught.

                                    i just asked mr. alka if he'd eat swordish like that again, or if he'd prefer it prepared another way. he responded, "it was *good*.

                                    personally, i wouldn't make fried swordfish fingers again. i prefer to prepare swordfish in small kabob size pieces, cooked (oil poached, i guess) in the evoo, lemon juice and herb marinade (with chunks of onion and bell pepper, as for kabobs).

                          2. re: alkapal

                            We used a cornmeal/flour, and if the fish was really pungent as with Carp and catfish and some of the other fish we often caught, the mustard really evened out the flavor so you could actually taste the fish. somehow the two go together really well but he mostly used it on Catfish. Personally I always liked it when we had it on Whiting and on Leopard Sharks caught beneath the San Fran Cisco Bay Bridge.

                        2. re: alkapal

                          Mostly on catfish. But basically on any kind of fish we ever caught. Leopard Shark, Flounder, Trout, Northern, and Perch.

                      2. A very dear friend of mine from Louisiana actually smears his catfish with yellow mustard and sprinkles it with Cajun seasoning before dipping in cornmeal to fry....and it's wonderful! Though not very perceptible....

                        Still, I think that catfish and mustard are not a crazy match AT ALL.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: 4Snisl

                          This sounds really close to what my dad did. He did fry the catfish in cornmeal, salt and pepper, but he always put mustard on the side and we would dip the hot fish into it.

                          Believe it or not, if you dip just a tiny bit of regular mustard on the fish, it totally brings out the flavors of the fish. Especially if it is a really pungent fish it kinda masks the fishy smell so you can taste whats under neath.

                        2. The only place I have known to use mustard as a fish condiment was a Soul Food restaurant from Mississippi. Judging by the replies here, maybe mustard is a deep South thing.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: JungMann

                            soul food does not equal all-around "deep south."

                            1. re: alkapal

                              I'm aware, which is why I specified the owners were from Mississippi.

                            2. re: JungMann

                              Maybe thats where Dad got used to the idea. He was afterall from Missouri

                            3. For my taste, mustard on a fried fish sandwich is just fine, since its tangy quality balances the fattiness of the fried fish. But mustard on fish prepared any other way, I'm less enthusiastic. I also think any form of mayo-based sauce with fish is questionable, because the fattiness of the mayo added to the fattiness of the fish just doesn't work for me--however, it depends on the specific seafood; shrimp for example doesn't have that fatty mouthfeel, so that's different.

                              But please no catsup, the exception being as a base for raw oyster dipping sauce. It is interesting that, I heard once, New Orleans with its fine food, is the largest per capita consumer of catsup. But I attribute that to the volumes of catsup used in oyster bars, not as a condiment for its otherwise fine foods.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: johnb

                                That surprises me as so many people use mayo on their sandwiches of whatever kind. But I know there are a lot of raw oysters and sauce consumed. And lots of french fries, I guess.

                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                  It's not so much straight-up mayo or ketchup as it is tarter sauce and/or red sauce. In either case, neither (should) taste overtly like the base.

                                  I love a well made tarter, but the thought of dipping a great piece of hot and crispy fried fish into a blob of straight-up mayo hits my gag reflex.

                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                    It surprises me too, since I can't stand Mayo on anything. Well maybe I can kinda stand it for some chicken salad or tuna salad sandwiches, but thats about it. I really do love the taste of mustard on fish sandwiches or just any kinda breaded and fried fish. fish made other ways besides frying I don;t think it translates as well. But what's really weird is that when you go somewhere and have a sandwich made, the people behind the counter just automatically assume that EVERYONE wants mayo. Not Me!

                                2. I often will mix dijon or stoneground mustard into mayo with some lemon juice to use as a sauce for fish, fried or otherwise.

                                  1. In rural west central Illinois, just north of St. Louis, along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, the standard fish sandwich (from local fish) comes on supermarket white bread and normally comes with a slice of white onion and some mustard. It's so popular that at county fairs, groups like 4-H clubs sell fish sandwiches isntead of, say hamburgers. And this is an area with a tradition of country cooking, much in the style of soul food, but without, percentage-wise,a significant African American population, at least in my 35 years of experience. I've used the area for years to make the point that it's not a mono-cultural style of cooking.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lemons

                                      Well you may be onto something here. My mom is originally from Illinois, and my Dad is originally from Missouri. So maybe somewhere between the two, they both ran across this mustard thing. It's interesting that you mention the slice of raw onion on the side, because with most dishes (especially soups) we always had a slice of onion on the side. I will have to ask my mom if maybe she is the one who really brought the mustard thing to my attention.!

                                    2. In France, Dijon mustard can be used as a condiment for almost any dish.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Cary

                                        J Pepin spread dijon mustard on one side of fish filets, then dipped in fresh mixed herbs and baked. You just know it'll be fabulous!

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Ooops - PBS overload! You're right, Jacque cooked with Julia this week. Thanks for clarifying.

                                            1. re: Sarah

                                              loving the "createtv" channel for sure. a sop to my insomnia! ;-).

                                      2. The Chowhounders who mentioned French's sent a shiver down my spine. Color me elitist; I like Dijon and consider yellow mustard to be vinegary gak.

                                        I love a Dijon mayonnaise to dip fried seafood in. But then, I dip my french fries in Dijon mayonnaise, too - and sometimes use it on burgers.

                                        1. BJ's Market, a soul food restaurant on Chicago's South Side, specializes in Mustard Fried Catfish, which is always a huge hit at Taste of Chicago. BJ seems to smear the mustard on the fish before breading it and then frying it.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: Querencia

                                            Sounds very close to how my dad did it, using, I'm afraid, French's. It was good. But no French's in my fridge now. Like a lot of posters, I'm a Dijon lover for sure (but pretty fond of creole mustard too, and spicy German too),

                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                              no need to be ashamed of french's. every mustard has its own appeal, including french's.

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                You are as usual 110% right ;-). I used to think it was a bit nasty but my mother-in-law's uses of it (a very mustardy potato salad among others) have converted me. (It's not all deviled-egg and shrimp casserole at her place, she's actually a really good cook.)

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  are the deviled eggs *in* the shrimp casserole?

                                                  and southern potato salad seems to like the french's -- for some vinegary spark.

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Yes ma'am - full discussion in all its gory glory on the Most Atrocious Casserole Ever thread, I thought you were in on that one?
                                                    Husband's family lived in San Antonio for a couple of years and MIL's faily lived in various places in the States while she was growing up - some of the Southern influences have persisted in her cooking to this day (at age 86, still in her own home, thank goodness).

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      i thought i recalled the deviled egg casserole but didn't recall the shrimp component. i love shrimp and deviled eggs, but....separately....and not in a casserole.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        And certainly not with white sauce and potato chip topping. Gaaaaaaaaah.

                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          at least the topping was not the (gack) canned fried onions that people put on green bean casserole. that casserole is just. plain. horrible. (oops, wrong thread! ;-).

                                          2. No I haven't heard of it before, and I don't know why I haven't thought to do it. I love mustard, and certainly prefer it to tartar sauce any day. I make a French dish, using halibut steaks or salmon served with a sauce of dijon mustard, white wine and cream. I like to be heavy handed with the dijon. Sounds good to me, I love any and all mustards and I think it would be good.

                                            1. About 15 years ago we went to Barbados, where we found that a common way of serving fried flying fish was with a mustard-based hot sauce, and it was delicious. The one we kept seeing was "Lottie's." We liked it so much that we brought a couple of bottles home with us. (Today it would have to go in checked luggage, so I'd be less inclined to try it...if the bottle leaked or broke, the whole suitcase and its contents would be ruined.) We don't fry fish often, but when we made crab cakes we would use it on those. Yum! The one thing was that it was REALLY hot; you did have to be careful how much you used, or you'd cause troubles with, um, your "plumbing." Haven't been able to find Lottie's in the US, although we have found similar Bajan mustard-based hot sauces. I have to say I don't like them as well, though!