Herbs and Spices As Coatings

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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A useful side effect of coating meat and fish with a paste or rub of herbs and spices is that such a coating acts as a protective layer—like the skin on poultry—that insulates the meat itself from the direct high heat of oven or grill. This means that the outer layers of meat end up less overcooked, and so moister. Coarsely cracked spices, coriander in particular, can provide a crunchy counterpoint to the softer insides. The flavor of a spice crust is improved if the coating contains some oil, which essentially causes the crust to fry rather than simply dry out.