Part of the enjoyment of barbecuing is creating your own rubs. A dry rub is a mix of spices that is rubbed into the meat before it goes on the grill. It has a long history in the south and southwest and used as a marinade substitute. The moisture of a marinade dries out the meat and a rub is a method of keeping in the moisture.
Dry rubs are often used on ribs, steaks, hamburgers and pork chops. Ingredients vary but a basic southern style rub includes garlic powder, onion powder, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, paprika and dry mustard. This is a spicy mix that will give your barbecue a knockout punch.
A Cajun rub is slightly different and will often add cumin, coriander, sage and thyme. This can be used as a spice mix for stews, soups and even French fries.
There is an Indian version of a dry rub similar to curry that includes cumin, cardamom, turmeric, garam-masala and Indian chili powder. It adds a sweet and sour flavor to meats as well as grilled vegetables.
Refrigerate the meat for at least two hours and preferably overnight after applying the rub to allow the meat to soak up the ingredients. No marinade is necessary.
There are dry rub recipes for fish, especially salmon dry rubs. A great salmon dry rub includes 2 tablespoon sugar, 1.5 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, .5-1 tablespoon cumin, .5 tablespoon paprika, .25-.5 teaspoon salt, .5 teaspoon dry mustard and a pinch or up to .25 teaspoon cinnamon. This recipe will coat both sides of 2 large salmon fillets. Cook in an oil covered sauté pan for 2 minutes on each side at medium high heat. Turn the salmon and cook at very low heat for an additional 5 minutes.
A terrific rub native to Jamaica is called Jamaican jerk spice. This is Jamaica’s answer to American dry rubs. It is a hot, spicy mixture that can be used on pork, chicken, fish, shellfish, shrimp and sausage. Its two unique ingredients are allspice and Scottish bonnet peppers which are some of the hottest peppers on the Scoville hotness scale. Other ingredients include cloves, scallion, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, salt and black pepper. Originally used as a rub when smoking, it is now used for barbecuing meat cooked over charcoal or a hardwood. Throughout the Caribbean, jerk stands selling grilled meat with a hard dough bread can be found. Walkerswood, Grace and Blue Mountain Country are three small companies that sell traditional Jamaican Jerk seasoning.
For those who don’t have the time or desire to make their own dry rub, they can be purchased at specialty food shops or gourmet food stores. The make great gifts for the barbecue aficionado.