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Calgary’s Silk Road Spice Merchant dishes on the perfect rub and how to use it

Find the best rub for your BBQ

Aug 1, 2014

by Max Fawcett

You know those jars of grocery store spice mixtures that you’ve got jammed into your kitchen cabinet? Toss them. After all, they’re just salt,a bit of pepper, dried onion and garlic. “Most of the commercial stuff is half salt, and salt tastes good – you need it for rubs – but tons of salt is just filler,” says Silk Road Spice Merchant co-owner Kelci Hind. “We have a lot more variety. We’ve got your standard Texas rubs, Memphis rubs, Montreal steak spice style rubs, and then also tons of other interesting variations – juniper berry rubs and things like that.”

Their Memphis rub was actually the direct result of a research trip they made down to one of North America’s barbecue Meccas. “I was in this hole-in-the-wall place and chatted with them and told them what I did, and the cook in the back gave me a sample of their rub,” Hind says. “I took it back to Calgary and did my best to recreate it – and I think I came pretty close.”

In this case, trust us: close enough definitely counts. But the best part about Silk Road’s spice mixtures is that they’re practically idiot proof. “That’s the nice thing about rubs: you can do just about anything and they’ll work,” Hind says. The easiest way to apply is by rubbing it on – and, yes, you should actually rub it into the meat so that the salt and spies can penetrate the meat – and letting it sit for half an hour or so before tossing it on the grill. Those with a bit more patience or foresight can mix the rub with a couple of tablespoons of oil and a couple of tablespoons of acid (white vinegar or lemon juice) and let it marinate for a few hours. “Then you’ll get even more intense flavor,” Hind says.

Calgarians can check out the various mixes and rubs that the Silk Road Spice Merchant sells by visiting their Inglewood store. Beginning this fall – by September at the latest, Hind says – Edmontonians will also have a retail location of their own. And those who live elsewhere in the province can order online, if they simply can’t wait until their next visit to the big cities.

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