Homemade spice mixes

(Jimmy ) #21

Three decades (or more) ago I had nearly a religious experience when I tasted–for the first time, dry rubbed pork spare ribs at a Houston’s Restaurant in Nashville, TN.

Previously, I wasn’t a fan of spare ribs because those drenched in sauce were a mess to eat, and to me, the “tang” distracted from the flavor of the pork.

After my ferocious bone sucking exposure to dry rub ribs, I came home and played with mixing seasonings and spices that would nearly replicate Houston’s Dry Rub. Each rub I throw together is a bit different from the last, but the spare ribs are very forgiving. Brisket too.


Dry rub was the standard in Memphis as well


I get spice mixes from a place called The Spice & Tea Exchange in Alexandria VA.
Here’s a picture of my recent purchase.

I also use McCormick’s Montreal Chicken blend often.


I mix most stuff to order, but I keep these on hand:

  • combination ethiopian mekelesha and berbere (the current mix, which I’m still working on, contains coriander seed, fenugreek seed, black pepper, green cardamom, allspice, cloves, thyme and oregano as a substitute for ajwain, garlic powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, paprika) in shiro wat, beef tibs and all the redder stews. Also good on avocado.

  • middle-eastern za’atar (traditionally wild thyme but in mine some mix of mediterranean thyme and oregano; sesame seeds and sumac) also on avocados, chicken, and in olive oil for bread dipping.

  • chinese five spice powder https://omnivorescookbook.com/homemade-five-spice-powder/ for homemade cantonese roasted duck and bbq pork bun filling. Also been meaning to try it with some kind of pear pastry.


I just realized that the lemon salt is directly linked to making preserved lemons. I generally need the juice of 2 more lemons to cover my batch of preserved lemons. I’ve learned to go ahead and zest them prior to juicing. Interestingly both the lemon salt and the preserved lemons last me about the same length of time!