Spice rubs (sometimes called dry rubs to differentiate from liquid marinades) are an easy way to incorporate spices into a dish — particularly something cooked with dry heat, in an oven or on a grill or plancha. Starting with a main ingredient like meat, fish, vegetables, tofu or cheese and rubbing it with spices helps it absorb the spices’ flavor and creates a crust to add an interesting textural component.
To make a spice rub, mix your ground spices with a little salt and/ or sugar: salt helps draw water out of other ingredients and allows flavor of the spices to penetrate better, and sugar makes a beautifully caramelized crust as it cooks. Apply the spice rub liberally to your main ingredient about 10 minutes before cooking.
TRY IT OUT
Rub ground black pepper, smoked pimentón paprika, salt and a pinch of sugar into vegetables before grilling.
Spice rubs work in cold applications too. To make cured salmon, mix equal parts salt and sugar until you fill a flat dish large enough for your fillet. Add ground coriander, black lime, ginger and any other favorite spices, to taste. Bury the salmon fillet in the mixture and store it in a sealed container in your refrigerator for about a week, until the salmon acquires a dense, firm texture and opaque color. Rinse the salmon in cold water. Serve very thinly sliced.