Fresh mustard greens have this wonderful burning sensation that creeps up upon you not unlike wasabi. First, you feel it first in the back of your mouth, then, without warning it rushes up into your sinuses causing you to scrunch up your noes and close your eyes tight as you wait for feeling to pass. It is a cheap thrill at $1.99 a bunch.
How to eat them was another story. They were one of the first crops in her CSA each year and it always took her a few days to build up the courage to actually do with them. She had tried them in Saag Paneer, fantastic, but sautéed on their own, not so amazing. She had tired a duck leg noodle soup at the now closed restaurant Ping and remember it had come to the table garnished with pickled mustard greens. Against an anise rich broth and fatty docket the greens played the role of balance; acid and crunch.
Pickling them was quite simple. Wash the greens, place in a jar with a apple cider vinegar brine and a couple chilies and garlic cloves. Into the fridge for at least three days. She let them sit for about six months to dig into the quart mason jar with 3 inch pieces of mustard greens bobbing up and down like specimens in formaldehyde in a science lab. She took out a few pieces and gave them a good sniff before placing them on the bamboo cutting board. Vinegary. Her knife glided through the mound easily and into her taco they went. She waited for the burning to run through her face. Another bite. More waiting. Much to her surgrin that rush never came. Instead she welcomed the sharp tang, mild heat and crunch of the greens. Over the next few months, the pickled mustard greens came in and out of the fridge weekly, chopped they went into salads, savory oatmeal, hot dogs, quesidilias, they were an equal opportunity condiment.