Saturday, October 20, 2012

Glam up your Protein

Seasoning your meat in the Caribbean and South America is a normal every day occurrence, with specific steps in place, it's given care and attention. A bathing is the first takes step in the process prior to the seasoning stage. 

 I recall the steps my parents took when preparing the meat for cooking; be it chicken or fish. The meat would be washed, yes washed with fresh squeezed lemons, or lime and if those weren't readily available, white vinegar would be used along with a dash of salt.  The meat would then be covered and left to sit for about one hour.

During that time the prep for the rub is put together; either wet or dry; depending on the type of dish being cooked.

After that time expired, the meat would be rinsed to remove the juice and salt, and then patted dry with a paper towel. The wet or dry seasoning (and I am not talking about salt and pepper here) is then massaged by hand into the meat and it's covered again for another 2 hours, and in some cases overnight before being cooked. 

In the typical  North American Caucasian, European and Chinese  homes, meat is not prepared in that fashion. The meat is washed with water; salt and black pepper added and maybe a dash of other dried herbs, then cooked according to the recipes' instruction.

Having tried both ways of preparing meats; hands down I prefer the method of allowing the meat to marinate in the seasoning for a period of time prior to cooking.  This process tends to make the meat more flavourful, and if you don't think this is the case; do your own experiment and then let me know.

So, let's talk a bit about Seasoning; dry, fresh or wet?  It all depends on your preference, what's handy and how much time you have to get the herbs ready.

Dry Herbs:
You can buy them at the grocery store in bulk or pre-packed, and mix a few together and store in a air tight jar for your chicken, then do a similar one for your fish etc.
The down side to using those herbs - you don't know the actual shelf life and how long they've been packaged, thus you don't know the strength of what you're getting.

Fresh Herbs:
It's the way to go in my opinion, but depending on what you're looking for, it could be tough to find as fresh herbs are seasonal, and if you do find them it could be costly. However, you can't beat the flavour of using fresh herbs against dry.

Wet Herbs:
Yeah, there is such a thing as wet herbs; well now there is-LOL!  It's what I grew up seeing my parents do, and continues to.  It's simple, easy, a time saver and way better than using dry herbs.
Buy loads of a variety of fresh herbs - basil, cilantro, green onions, spanish celery, hot scotch bonnet peppers (maybe not for some), thyme etc, 
Wash  thoroughly, add them to a blender, drizzle a bit of water, olive oil and salt and blend to a paste like consistency. Store in glass jars and keep in the fridge for 3-6 months.

Now you have fresh herbs with a bit of salt and olive oil to preserve it, and you're spared the extra work of chopping fresh herbs every time you want to season your meats. It is a great way to get as fresh as you can to using fresh herbs still full of flavour and a time saver.

Experiment to find which herbs work best on different meats, and make separate jars of the mixture and label them; chicken rub, fish rub, pork rub etc. 

Al-right, to your health and enjoyment. 

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