A good barbecue starts with a good barbecue rub. The ingredients of your spice rub are the ones liable for the flavor surprises of your barbecue, and there are enough ingredients you can choose from and experiment with.
For your barbecue spice rub, there are three sets of ingredients to note.
1. Salt and Sugar
This is where to start with – a good salt and sugar base. The combination of correct amounts of salt and sugar will give the taste balance and caramelization to the food. The ratio between the amounts of salt and sugar depends on the type of food you are cooking. A higher ratio of sugar works best for pork while a higher ratio of salt suits great with beef and fish. The type of salt and sugar to use now depends on your preference. For salt, you can choose from a fine-grained refined salt, an additive-free coarse-grained kosher salt, a very fine- grained sea salt that came from evaporated seawater, or a seasoned salt – a regular salt mixed with flavoring ingredients such as garlic, onion, or celery. For sugar, the two choices are the white sugar, which is highly refined cane sugar that will scorch in high temperature, and the brown sugar, which is a white sugar mixed with molasses that add color to the food.
2. Pepper and Herbs
Of course, pepper adds the heat and completes the blend of taste and warmth to the barbecue. Remember to go slow when adding pepper to the mixture of salt and sugar until your desired blend of flavor and heat is achieved. Various types of pepper can be used for your barbecue rub. First on the list is the cayenne pepper or the ground red pepper that gives a good deal of heat and a bit of color to the food. White pepper gives lighter color, milder flavor, and gentle heat while cracked black pepper provides a stronger flavor compared to cayenne and white pepper. Smoked Chile powders such as the ground chipotle pepper also add deep flavor and heat to the spice rub.
3. Added Spices and Flavors
These are the herbs and other spices that match the type of food you are cooking. Here is a list of the best herbs and spices you can use for some meat cooked in grills.
- For pork, you can add chili powder for an extra pungent flavor, whole cumin for an added aroma and peppery flavor, and either the deeper flavor of Hungarian paprika or the milder flavor of Spanish paprika. To achieve signature flavors for pork barbecue, you can also use coriander, garlic, ginger, onion, mustard, and thyme.
- For beef, you can use almost everything used in pork except for ginger. You can also add oregano.
- For poultry, you can also use whole cumin, paprika, coriander, garlic, ginger, onion, mustard, and thyme just as with pork, but other options include rosemary and dill.
- For fish and seafood, you can mix your spice rub with whole cumin, paprika, dill, garlic, ginger, onion, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.
- Hungarian paprika gives deeper flavor while Spanish paprika is milder, but both provide sweet and hot flavors to the food.
- Whole Cumin offers aroma to the food plus a nutty taste.
- Bay Leaf is also widely used as an aromatic element to the food. It also adds a strong taste to the spice rub. You can read more about how bay leaf are supposed to be used here.
- Dried mustard powder excellently combines with many spices.