Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Season your presents with rubs, spice mixes

By Betty Shimabukuro


Mary Ann Kato's request arrived back in October, but I've been holding onto it as a good idea for the holidays. "Do you happen to have a recipe for pork rib or steak seasoning rub?" Kato wrote. "I would like to have one with Hawaiian salt in it."

A seasoning mix is a great gift from the kitchen for the kitchen. You can make a lot of it without much fuss or mess. You don't even have to turn on the oven.

In these recipes, I'm using sea salt as interchangeable with Hawaiian salt as a basic ingredient. These days sea salt is easy to find in supermarkets and comes in many grades and colors, from pink to black. The type you use is a matter of personal taste (and the depth of your pocketbook; some of these can be quite expensive), but for the sake of buying local, look for one that's really Hawaiian.

The spices can be pricey, too, so if you are making a lot, choose a recipe that doesn't use too many different spices and buy in bulk. Best option: If you have some herbs growing in your garden -- rosemary, thyme or oregano, for example -- you're really on the road to a homemade, home-grown gift. Take a couple of days to dry some herbs and use them in your seasoning mix.

A basic formula: To 1/4 cup sea salt, mix in 1 tablespoon of dried herbs and a teaspoon or more of both dried garlic flakes and dried onion. If you have the time and want to fancy it up, add another 1/2 teaspoon of well-dried orange or lemon zest, minced.

Your salt mix should be tightly bagged, then present it in a pouch or small gift bag. Or add value by offering it in a small bottle, ceramic or plastic container that your giftee can reuse. Just be sure it's airtight. The mixes will keep at least six months. To use them, rub a teaspoon or so into a 6-ounce portion of meat before grilling or roasting.

These recipes cover a mix for pork that's slightly sweet and slightly spicy, adapted from a host of recipes that use coriander and cumin as a base; a general purpose steak rub; and one more ambitious, coffee-flavored rub that requires grinding whole spices.

Cumin-Coriander Pork Rub

2 tablespoons EACH sea salt, ground coriander, ground cumin, brown sugar and chili powder
1 tablespoon EACH paprika, ground allspice and coarsely ground black pepper
Combine ingredients. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Sea Salt Steak Rub

1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons mustard seeds

Combine all ingredients. May also be used for chicken, firm fish and Portobello mushrooms. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Star Anise and Coffee Bean Spice Rub

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
6 star anise pods
2 tablespoons whole coffee beans
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Grind all ingredients (use a spice grinder or coffee grinder) until no whole peppercorns remain. Good for grilled steak. Makes about 1/3 cup.

Nutritional information unavailable.


Send requests to "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail

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