The Adventures of Joshua Judson Rosen
(action man)

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Wed, 25 Nov 2009

00:29: Spicy (& Spicy) Bean-Sprouts

I've just finished a very happy-tasting dish of tofu, mushrooms, and bean-sprouts sauté'd in a combination of mustard-oil and `mongolian fire oil', and I'm remembering a conversation that I had with a coworker about her plans to make `spicy fresh spring rolls'....

The recipe had called for a combination of chili-sauce and hot mustard, and she had no hot mustard; her plan was to substitute some Sriracha chili-sauce for the hot mustard, explaining that she `just wanted something with a spicy kick to it'.

I had a certain difficulty comprehending that idea, though--because chili-sauce and `hot' mustard don't actually taste anything like each other, and the capsaicin `burn' (at the point of contact) and the AITC `burn' (in the sinuses) are just completely different sensations. There's no way that one can be used to create an experience equivalent to that of the other. It's like substituting a pumpernickel bagel for a chocolate doughnut--as fond as I am of both pumpernickel bagels and chocolate doughnuts..., I would still think, if I were biting into the former when expecting the latter, that I was biting into the worst-tasting chocolate doughnut I'd ever had.

And there's the crux of my misunderstanding: what wasn't apparent to me was that she didn't actually want to create an equivalent experience--she actually didn't like the `mustard burn', and would have preferred a modified version of the recipe that lacked that sensation and gave her more of another sensation that she did like.

But it got me thinking: if I needed to pick something that was similar to hot mustard--that did provide a similar experience--what would I pick? And I think that I might pick... mint. A good strong dose of (the right) mint, while it does provide some elements very different from mustard, also provides a sort of `surprised' nasal sensation that does bear a certain similarity to the `wasabi rush'.

Or is it just me?