Marinating is a great way to add flavour and, in some cases, tenderise meat, chicken and fish. A marinade can be made of paste, liquid or a dry rub (such as a simple herb and spice mix). If you’re the adventurous kind of a cook, you can create your own mix and match flavours to create your own blends.
Typical blends of vinegar, wine, oil, salt, and seasonings make terrific marinades that boost the flavor of food. The natural acid in the liquids along with salt tenderize tough fibers, while the oil acts as a flavor enhancer. Always use a non-reactive container such as glass, ceramic, or even plastic bowls. Aluminum containers react with the acid in your marinade and will begin to corrode, causing off flavors in the marinated food.
Oil is said to work as flavor enhancer. The oil content in a marinade locks in the natural flavour of the food and prevents it from drying out, retaining the most luscious flavor of the food. Some oils can also add flavour. Good oils for marinating include olive, sesame, peanut and infused oils available at gourmet stores.
These ingredients provide the unique flavors in marinated food. Garlic, ginger and onion are the most common great starting points. You may also opt to use fresh herbs and chilli to spice things up, or honey and sugar to sweeten your food. Seasonings include citrus peel, soy sauce, mustard, salt and pepper, and herbs and spices. The choice is yours.
Acid ingredients have the ability to tenderise meat by unravelling its proteins – which results to the softening of the surface and allows flavors to be absorbed. Acids include vinegar, wine, sherry, citrus juice, yoghurt and buttermilk.
As a general rule, the longer food is left to marinate, the more flavoursome it will become. However, the ideal marinating time usually depends on what you’re marinating, the size of the ingredients and the type of marinade you are using. Just make sure you know the kind of ingredients you use and the amount of time to soak the food, to avoid mushy or tough marinated foods.