When you think back to the restaurants you’ve truly known and loved, they often come with an accompanying narrative. Maybe your first white tablecloth foray was integral to your family’s red-letter occasions, and maybe your college coffee shop offered familiar, flaky-warm croissants while serving as a comforting study sanctuary. There is an inextricable relationship between the dishes we can’t forget and the settings in which they were savored, and those that endure year after year are the especially rare pleasure.
“Mustards has, in my opinion, remained such a successful Napa Valley institution because it’s so comfortable and people feel like they are at home here,” states chef and owner Cindy Pawlcyn. This simple (if modest) assessment cuts to the core of Mustards Grill’s 30+ years of culinary finesse. Every bite reflects Pawlcyn’s belief that the best ingredients are a direct route to the best dishes, and her bright, unfussy dining room has been the backdrop for treasured meals: a giddy pre-wedding dinner, an impromptu birthday lunch, a Valentine’s Day connection. Mustards’ legendary seafood tostada and Mongolian pork chop are two orders we never leave Napa Valley without. Here’s to another 30 years to remember.
Mongolian Pork Chops
COURTESY OF CINDY PAWLCYN & MUSTARDS GRILL
“Two of our original regulars patiently stuck with me as I experimented with different pork chop marinades for about a week. When I hit on the perfect match, the guys wrote their compliments on a napkin and my then-partner, Bill Higgins, framed it to remind me that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
- 6 (10-ounce) center-cut double pork chops
- 1 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Tamari soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 scallion, white and two-thirds of the green parts, minced
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Lee Kum Kee black bean chile sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, minced
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
Trim the excess meat and fat away from the ends of the chop bones, leaving them exposed. Put the pork chops in a clean plastic bag and lightly sprinkle with water to prevent the meat from tearing when pounded. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, pound the meat down to an even 1-inch thickness, being careful not to hit the bones. Alternatively, have your butcher cut thinner chops and serve 2 per serving. To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Coat the pork chops liberally with the marinade and marinate for 3 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.
“We cook over wood – you will never get the same flavor on a gas grill – it just can’t happen.”
Place the chops on the grill and grill for 5 minutes on each side, rotating them a quarter turn after 2 to 3 minutes on each side to produce nice crosshatch marks. It’s good to baste with some of the marinade as the meat cooks. As with all marinated meats, you want to go longer and slower on the grill versus shorter and hotter, because if the marinated meat is charred, it may turn bitter. The pork is ready when it registers 139° on an instant-read thermometer.
The Ever-Popular Seafood Tostada
COURTESY OF CINDY PAWLCYN & MUSTARDS GRILL
“The tostada is something I’ve loved to eat as long as I can remember. From simple guacamole and cheese ones to our fancy fish one, I’ve always loved open-faced ‘pick it up and eat it’ food. Of course our tostada is over-the-top and quite hard to pick up, but folks still seem to love eating it!”
- 1 portion fish
- 1 crispy tostada
1 head red cabbage, sliced
1 large jicama, julienned
3 red Fresno chilies seeded and julienned
4 bunches of watercress washed and cleaned
- Lime wedge
- Black beans, heated
- Feta cheese
- Guajillo-tomatillo salsa (see below)
- Lime vinaigrette (see below)
“If you’re going to go to the trouble of cooking, really invest in quality products – it makes all the difference.”
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup good olive oil
Mix cabbage, jicama, Fresno chiles and watercress with lime vinaigrette, salt and pepper to taste.
1 clove garlic
Toast chilies in 375-degree oven for one minute. Cover prepped chilies, garlic and cumin with water, bring to boil, let simmer until tender. Puree in blender and strain. Combine grilled tomatillos with guajillo puree, blend until smooth, season to taste with salt, pepper and lime juice.
May We Suggest…
PREMIUM CHARCOAL GRILL
MUSTARDS GRILL NAPA VALLEY COOKBOOK
ALL-CLAD FISH SPATULA
ALL-PURPOSE GLASS MIXING BOWLS