Use herb and spice blends you mix yourself to take dishes from so-so to sublime.

By Julia Dowling Rutland
October 18, 2002
Jim Bathie

Great cooks use seasonings the way artists draw from theirpalettes. Just as colors layer upon each other in a painting, herbsand spices blend for a culinary masterpiece. Fresh seafood is theperfect blank canvas for seasoning. With so many varieties of fish,each subtly or distinctly flavored, the possibilities are endless.Use these blends to enhance many foods--or bottle them to give ashomemade gifts.

Simply brush melted butter over a fillet and sprinkle with anherb or spice blend. Place in a hot oven or on a grill for about 10minutes per inch of thickness. When seasoning very mild fish, suchas sole, use small amounts to avoid masking the delicateflavor.

The Sweet BBQ Rub works ideally with a full-flavored fish, suchas salmon. It contains a sweet-hot balance accented by the smokyessence of grilling. Try it on chicken and pork, too; their longercooking times allow the sugary rub to caramelize for rich color andtaste.

Exotic fragrances of coriander, cardamom, and fenugreekdistinguish our Asian Blend. Sprinkle it lightly on fish,shellfish, and mild meats, such as chicken. Stir it into soups; thecooking water of rice, lentils, or beans; or a pot of boiling pastafor a subtle hint of spice.

In contrast, the Southwest and Louisiana blends incorporaterobust ground red pepper. The Southwest version adds cumin, aswell; try it on meats headed for tacos or fajitas. Both blends worknicely as rubs on fish or chicken, stirred into soups, or sprinkledon vegetables.

The zesty Lemon Blend perks up seafood, adds a bright citruselement to steamed vegetables, or becomes a garnish atop gazpacho.And it can dress the rim of a Bloody Mary glass. Cheers!