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Need a change from the normal rub?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I wrote this in my roll call thread and thought I'd copy it here.

"Here's a tip for dry rub. This might be redundant for some, but a major component of the rub I worked up for my pot roast was sumac. I find sumac has a sweetness and an earthiness that works really well with cumin (it's got a slightly similar flavor profile). I actually doubled up on the sumac. Basically I eyeballed some brown sugar. Then I eyeballed the usual components of onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, ground sea salt, thyme, paprika and chili powder. I also tossed in just a little cinammon for good measure (maybe next time I'll add a little nutmeg as well). Then I toasted some cumin seeds and coriander seeds as I do when I do a good Indian curry. I threw those freshly roasted seeds in the Braun coffee grinder that I keep for spices. I added two whole dried small chipotle peppers and ground it all up and added them to the rub. Then I added about double the amount of sumac than I did for the other spices. The resulting rub is sweet/earthy, a little smoky, a little warm from the chipotle and worked really well with beef. Another little shift I did was using palm sugar to coat the roast before adding the rub. I don't know how much difference it made, but I suspect that it helped. Palm sugar is something I use for my Thai curries and you can find it in many international markets. It's not super sweet and it has the consistency of a creamy vasoline so it's perfect for coating the meat and holding the rub fast".

To expand a little bit, sumac is something that is used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. You probably won't find it in normal supermarkets, but you should be able to find it in international markets if you have one in your community (especially if you have stores that service populations of Indian (Bombay-type) or Middle Eastern populations. I bought a 1 lb bag of it for $2.95 at a local market that specializes in Indian food (Ziyad brand).. It looks like a paler and grittier version of cayenne pepper, but it's a little sweet and not spicy. It works especially well in concert with cumin and chil powder. If you can't find it locally, you can order it on-line, but it's more expensive. Here's a link to it: http://ralphs.elsstore.com/brandstor...-sumac-berries

If you only use commercial ground cumin, you should definitely pick up whole cumin seeds and toast and grind them yourself. It makes a big difference in the flavor. All you do is get a dry skillet, heat it up really hot and toss the cumin seeds on the hot skillet. Toss them around a bit a couple of times and cook for less than a minute. When you start seeing wisps of smoke and the seeds start jumping a little, they're done. You can smell the point where they're toasty and not burnt (make sure you don't overdo it - these little seeds cook quickly, especially if you have a sizzling hot skillet - just keep them moving). Doing this with coriander is awesome as well. You really don't need much of either - just enough to cover your cupped palm. You want to try to only do enough for each use because you'll lose the great flavor if you try to store it. If you keep a separate little coffee grinder for spices, it makes it really easy to do this (I'm sure that many of you have this already).

Palm sugar comes in a jar covered with some fairly nasty smelling oily substance that keeps it sealed. Don't worry about it because the smell doesn't carry over. It can be a bit hard to find. Once again, if you have an international market that sells to Oriental populations, you might be able to find it. It's used a lot in Thai cooking and the Chinese use it as well. I bought a 2 lb jar of it for $3.89. This is what you're looking for: http://www.goldencountry.com/search.aspx?phr=palm+sugar If you can't find it, perhaps your local supermarket can order it from the above source.

The consistency is actually more like the waterless hand cleaner that mechanics use. It spreads on really nicely. You can also buy dried palm sugar that you grate like nutmeg, but that won't work in this application.

Finally, if you use powdered ginger in your rub, give dried galangal (Kha) a spin. It's Thai ginger. I paid about $7 for a big bag of it online. It's kind of fluffy so you have to grind it up. It's got a different flavor than normal ginger (I can't really describe the difference - it might have a little lemony cast to it). I also use fresh galangal root in place of fresh ginger root, but it can realy be hard to find. I basically keep a a root of it in my freezer at all times, because I can't always get a hold of it.

Anyway, happy experimenting and I hope this gives you some fresh ideas for tricking out your rubs.
post #2 of 7
Wow, some great, albeit exotic, twists on traditional rubs. You are a wealth of knowledge. Thanks for sharing and welcome to the SMF!!
post #3 of 7
So , are you talking about the sumac that looks like this , and kinda tastes like sweet tarts ? The seeds or the wood or leaves ?

post #4 of 7
I was wondering that too.. a garbage tree that grows everywhere here....
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Apparently there are about 250 different varieties. I'm not sure how close ours is to the ones they process in Africa/Middle East. It's actually the berries that are dried and crushed.

Tastes kinda like Sweet Tarts, eh? Cool.

Hmmmm, wonder if using the woody part and the leaves as smoking agents would have some sort of effect. I'm not sure if they have any aroma of their own.

Just make sure you don't use poison sumac <chuckle>.

PS, I'm not responsible for anyone trying raw sumac berries. However, it sounds like they're pretty much the same thing. Since sumac is only $3 for a lb of powder in my neck of the woods, I'm sticking with that.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Since you live in the Detroit area, you should have no problem finding it in a market, considering the large Islamic population you have there.

Also, I don't know how many of you use turmeric, but I like to add that as well. It's what gives curry powder its orangy cast. It adds a nice color and another flavor component.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
PS, since you love the hot stuff, you should mix up some of my rub and add some dried habanero skin to the grind mix (or just a portion of one depending on how much rub you make). I made up about 2 oz of rub (using what little was left after using the original rub and giving some of it away) and used 1/3 of a small dried habanero. I tasted it about 15 minutes ago and I still feel it on my tongue. It's not what I would consider fiery hot but quite toasty. I'm sure that if I used the whole thing and threw in the seeds as well, it would be way too hot for that much rub. The dried chipotles I used gives it a slight smoky heat (only used one of those as well - next time, I'd probably double up on it).

BTW, I dehydrate my own habaneros. I use this neat little DeLonghi convection oven/toaster that I picked up on Amazon for $50 (refurb). Takes about 10 hours or so at the dehydrate level. I didn't even bother getting a dehydrator tray - just threw it on the rack and let 'er go. Only special thing I have to do is leave the door open.
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