Thai food, an often spicy fusion of southeast Asian cuisines, famously blends intense flavors that result in savory meats, creamy coconut sauces and light, springy vegetables. A Thai dry rub, like its western counterparts, is a combination of spices applied to meat before cooking -- but it's a bit spicier and more piquant.
Just like a dry rub for barbecue ribs that's been passed down through generations, you can prepare your own Thai dry rub at home by combining a variety of herbs and spices to taste. Like other rubs, whether they come from the east or west, a Thai dry rub builds on a foundation of common spices, such as sea salt; black, red and white pepper; garlic powder; and cumin. Ground Thai chiles add heat, while ginger lends spice. Seasonings such as dried lemongrass, cilantro, dried lime zest, mint, brown sugar, coriander and ground, toasted unsweetened coconut even out the mix.
When to Rub
A Thai rub has a spicy base with tangy, zesty and sometimes sweet highlights. The mix finishes with soothing, cool flavors, making it a touch more complex than most rubs, which tend to dwell in salty territory. A Thai dry rub lends itself to raw meat, poultry and fish before cooking. Perhaps most commonly, Thai dry rub appears on barbecued or broiled pork -- including shoulder, chop and tenderloin cuts -- and chicken dishes.
Transform the Rub
To add an authentic Thai touch and help balance out the intense taste of the rub with a more neutral flavor, add finely chopped, dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts to the rub before you apply it. To turn a Thai dry rub into a marinade, simply add water, oil or lemon juice to the seasonings. To create a coolly flavored Thai sauce with a slight edge, mix the rub with coconut milk.
A Few Tips
If you apply a rub to your meat, it leads to a dry, crisp -- or sometimes even caramelized -- coating on the exterior of the cooked meat. For a more moist exterior, make a paste out of your rub with water or oil before applying. If you don't have the time or ingredients for preparing a Thai dry rub at home, buy an off-the-shelf rub that is pre-blended and ready to use.
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