Cooking

Ground Up

The science behind the most delicious spice rub
ChefSteps
Individually ground ingredients are the key to ChefSteps' intensely flavorful spice rub.

The notion of a premade spice mix seems downright countercultural in this age of homemade cheese and kimchi.

But we're happy to outsource our dry rubs to ChefSteps, a digital cooking school from former members of the Modernist Cuisine team. Because the ChefSteps crew has packaged a spice rub like no other.

The company's newly available House Rub 01 ($14 for 8 ounces; $6 for 1.5 ounces), blended in strategically wee batches, descends from the spice mix used in the Modernist Cuisine labs' legendary pastrami.

Tweaked to complement fish and green beans as well as red meat, the current rub is the product of "cryogrinding," which is what you do when you have barrels of liquid nitrogen handy. The ChefSteps guys freeze juniper before drilling it down to the exact right size for flavor release; coriander, sea salt, dark demerara sugar, black peppercorns and red chiles are also individually ground for optimal flavor.

What's wrong with most rubs, according to Modernist Cuisine thinking, is that interesting ingredients are blitzed together in a massive grinder without regard to texture. That's not the case with this subtly sweet, piney rub.

Following the inventors' lead, we've made it our default finish for tater tots. But we hear it's just as good on French fries.

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