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Northern Pike

Liquid marinades made with citrus juice, vinegar or wine are marvelous for breaking down the muscle fiber in tougher cuts of meat and for adding flavor. But here’s the rub: Delicate fish can disintegrate in acidic liquids, and naturally tender cuts of meat need only a flavor boost- not tenderizing. ~Annette Gooch for the Edmonton Journal

On November 4th, 1999, I clipped an article from the Edmonton Journal written by Annette Gooch. It was entitled “Massage food with dried herbs to enhance flavors”. Although I often used a variety of liquid marinades to flavor my meats and vegetables, I was not familiar with the concept of a ‘dry rub’ or ‘dry marinade’. I started with the pork rub for ribs and was hooked. I have since tried the spice mixtures for lamb, beef and fish and have enjoyed them all.

A better technique for flavoring such foods is to treat them to a gentle massage with dried herbs and spices. Not only does a dry marinade enhance flavor without the need for liquid, during the cooking the spice-and-herb coating turns appealingly crusty, sealing in the juices. ~Annette Gooch for the Edmonton Journal

dry rub

Of course, you can buy handy jars of spice mixtures in your grocery stores and gourmet food shops but I like to make mine from scratch as I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and can then claim that there is more ‘love’ in my dish! I also like to use many of the herbs and spices that have been gathered from my own garden and dried. Small jars of handmade herb-and-spice blends would make nice stocking stuffers or added to gift baskets.

Yesterday, Chayton’s grandma and grandpa came over for supper and we enjoyed some fresh Northern Pike caught locally by grandpa Dale, who expertly filets the fish so that there are (almost!) no bones. For this special treat I used the fish rub blend; a spicy blackened Cajun-style which is pan-fried just before serving.

Fish Rub

2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon tarragon

1 teaspoon basil

2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Mix all ingredients together and massage into the fish. The longer the dry rub remains on the fish before cooking, the stronger the flavors. Note: Reduce or omit the cayenne if you do not want the fish to be too spicy.

I look forward to sharing more dry rub recipes with you. In the meantime… Enjoy!