My passport flaunts a few tattoos, smudgy proof of a trip here or there. But it also knows many a pristine page of Department of State-grade emptiness.
It's my spice rack that's been around. Among the huddled masses of oreganos and dills, there's a floral sack bulging with herbes de Provence … from actual Provence. There's a silk purse rattling with Sichuan peppercorns from Sichuan province. There's a foil square of Moroccan saffron and a zip-top bag pebbled with Hawaiian sea salt. If the nutmeg ever heads home, I'm carrying its bags.
Recently, a friend confided that she sneaks in her steak rub from Montreal. Apparently the paprika-powered powder is capable of turning domestic steak into an international sensation.
I poked around my cupboard and pounded out a version pungent with garlic and peppers. Not all the ingredients travel on passport, but they deliver a suitcase full of flavor. And just in time for grilling season, a taste of lawn chair adventure.
For more detail on the science of steak, visit www.amazingribs.com.
Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 10 minutes; Makes: About ¼ cup, enough for 6 steaks
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley leaves
1 teaspoon smoked ground paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Heat a small dry skillet over medium. Add garlic and cook, shaking skillet, until garlic is blackened in spots and soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Measure salt into a mortar or small electric spice grinder. Peel garlic and mash into salt. Mash in remaining ingredients. Rub about 1 teaspoon on each side of a steak in the last few seconds of grilling. It is good on pork and chicken, too.