Rubs for meat, fish, and even dessert

The Canadian Press

Rubs are a great way to give a base flavour to grilled food — and they need not be limited to use on meats.
They’re usually applied several hours before cooking so that a marinating effect takes place. Rubs also help form a savoury crust, says grilling guru Steven Raichlen.
“And that rub anybody can make with ingredients I guarantee you have in your house. It takes two seconds. It’s so much better than a store-bought rub, which contains monosodium glutamate and really crappy spices usually. But it’s also infinitely customizable,” he says.
Substitute smoked salt or smoked paprika for plain salt, use maple or brown sugar instead of white sugar, or hot pepper flakes instead of black pepper.
Raichlen has developed a dessert rub that is delicious on fruit, especially pineapple.
Pineapple is one of the first fruits Raichlen tried grilling and it remains a family favourite.
“You grill it over a super-hot fire quickly so you caramelize the outside, but you leave the inside raw so when you bite into it it’s candy crust, then ice-cold pineapple in the centre. You can imagine how amazing that tastes,” says Raichlen, who hosts the new TV show “L’Atelier du Maitre du Grill” for Zeste TV in Quebec.
Here are some recipes to add flavour using rubs:SPICE-GRILLED PINEAPPLE WITH SMOKY WHIPPED CREAM
The key to grilling pineapple is to do it over a hot fire so the sugar caramelizes while leaving the fruit raw and juicy in the centre. Mezcal is a tequila-like spirit made with fire-roasted agave cactus hearts. This gives it a smoky flavour — think of it as Mexican liquid smoke, suggests Raichlen.
Spiced Smoked Whipped Cream
250 ml (1 cup) heavy (whipping) cream
30 ml (2 tbsp) Dessert Rub (recipe follows)
30 ml (2 tbsp) mezcal or 1 ml (1/4 tsp) liquid smoke
250 ml (1 cup) minus 30 ml (2 tbsp) Dessert Rub (recipe follows)
1 juicy ripe pineapple, peeled and cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) thick slices (cored or not)
125 ml (1/2 cup) coconut milk (use a Thai or Latino brand)
Ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
Whipped cream: In a chilled metal bowl, place cream and Dessert Rub. Beat to soft peaks with an electric mixer. Add mezcal and continue beating to firm peaks. Keep chilled.
Set up a grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil grill grate.
Place Dessert Rub in a shallow bowl next to grill. Brush each pineapple slice on both sides with coconut milk, then completely dredge in rub, shaking off any excess.
Arrange pineapple slices over hot fire and grill until darkly browned (sugar should start to caramelize) on both sides, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter or plates. Top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and shake a little ground cinnamon or grate some nutmeg on top.
Makes 4 to 8 servings.
Source: “Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades ‚Äî Bastes, Butters and Glazes, Too” by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2017).
Raichlen created this dessert rub for grilled peaches and it works equally well on grilled plums, bananas, pineapple and apple (cut crosswise into 1-cm/1/2-inch thick slices).
You can also use the rub on grilled half lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit to make an extravagant sangria. Or sprinkle it on slices of buttered pound cake and grill to make dessert “toast.”
Turbinado sugar is a coarsely granulated, light brown cane sugar with crunchy crystals. If unavailable, use granulated sugar or demerara.
250 ml (1 cup) turbinado sugar
10 ml (2 tsp) ground cinnamon
1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground nutmeg
1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground allspice
1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground cloves
In a bowl, place sugar and whisk in cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Transfer to a jar, cover and store away from heat and light. This rub will keep for several weeks.
Makes 250 ml (1 cup).
Source: “Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades ‚Äî Bastes, Butters and Glazes, Too by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2017).
Chef Corbin Tomaszeski suggests serving this steak with twice-baked potato wedges or cheddar mashed potatoes and a simple side of grilled asparagus.
If desired, add fresh thyme or rosemary, whole garlic cloves and chopped shallots to the pan with the butter; this combination will give you the best herb and garlic butter seasoning, he says.
You can use coarse salt and pepper only instead of the peppercorn spice blend.
2 T-bone steaks (750 g to 1 kg/1 1/2 to 2 lb), rested at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes
30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
50 ml (3 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter
Black Pepper Spiced Rub Mix
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) black peppercorns
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) coriander seeds
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) cumin seeds
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) mustard seeds
2 ml (1/2 tsp) cloves
2 ml (1/2 tsp) fennel seeds
4 pieces cardamom pods, crushed, reserving seeds (discard pods)
1/2 small cinnamon stick
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) coarse sea salt
Place rub mix ingredients into a spice mill and grind until coarse.
Rub both steaks on each side with spice mixture.
In a large heavy cast-iron skillet, heat vegetable oil over high heat. Once oil begins to smoke, carefully place pepper-crusted steaks in pan. Pan-sear steaks on both sides until they turn a dark golden colour. Turn or flip steaks frequently while they are cooking.
After about 4 minutes, add unsalted butter and continue to cook steaks. Using a tablespoon, baste steaks on both sides with melted butter, being careful not to burn butter or steak. If the pan gets too hot, reduce heat to medium-high.
Continue to baste, cook and turn steaks until desired doneness. Use an instant-read thermometer to determine your preferred doneness.
Remove steaks from pan and let rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Source: Chef Corbin Tomaszeski of Savoury at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.
This recipe is perfect for anything roasted or grilled on the barbecue. Try it with slow-roasted brisket or pan-seared fish or shrimp.
15 ml (1 tbsp) toasted ground cumin seeds
30 ml (2 tbsp) paprika
15 ml (1 tbsp) salt
15 ml (1 tbsp) onion powder
15 ml (1 tbsp) garlic powder
15 ml (1 tbsp) cayenne pepper
15 ml (1 tbsp) white pepper
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) dried thyme
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) ground black pepper
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) dried oregano
In a small resealable jar, combine ingredients. Cover with a lid and shake. Store mixed rub or spice blend in a dark cool space until use.
If desired, add 30 ml (2 tbsp) of brown sugar for pork ribs or chicken wings.
Makes 4 servings.