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Dry Rubs and Pastes

Dry Rubs and Pastes
Both dry spice rubs and thick, wet pastes add bold flavors to grilled foods. Around the world, cooks use classic mixes that combine the best of a region's spices and herbs. Heady lavender infuses herbes de Provence, a medley of seasonings that is a favorite in the South of France. In the American Southwest, cooks reach for chili powder and chili flakes to perk up grilled meats and vegetables. Rubs and pastes can be applied just before grilling or up to a day in advance.

Preparing food properly will allow rubs and pastes to adhere uniformly. Pat meats and vegetables dry with paper towels, then rub in the mixture evenly on all sides. Press in the seasonings well, using friction to bring out their aromatic oils. Treat delicate fish gently, however, to prevent tearing. To coat small pieces of food quickly, combine them in a plastic bag with the spices and shake well.

Blending paste mixtures smoothly ensures that certain aromatic ingredients, such as the whole leaves of fresh herbs or large pieces of garlic, release as much of their aromatic oils as possible. Dry rubbing mixes can be easily transformed into pastes by pureeing them with moist, flavorful ingredients. Lemon juice, tomatoes, soy sauce, apple cider and flavored oils are just a few of the liquids that will bind a grill paste.