Acids, fats, and aromatics make up the holy trinity of marinades. Acids don’t just give flavour to the meat, but tenderise it as well. Depending on your preference or the dish you are cooking, you can opt for vinegar or citrus juices like lime. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can go for wine, yogurt, or even beer.
Fats essentially help enhance the texture of the meat, as well as aid in the dispersal of flavours. Olive oil is one of the more commonly used fat-based marinades, but you can experiment with other oils, too. Infused oils have added flavour and are also available in the market.
Aromatics give meats their flavourful punch. These range from garlic, lemongrass, chillies, oregano, and practically all the other herbs in your garden. Want some flavourful food combinations that have been tried and tested? Try seafood with dill, or lamb with rosemary or mint. Beef works amazingly with thyme, marjoram, and rosemary; pork goes well with sage and oregano. You also can’t go wrong with tarragon and thyme on your poultry.
With these in mind, you will be making the perfect marinade in no time.
Marinades can sometimes be unfairly labelled as complicated and time-consuming. However, keep in mind that post-prep, you just simply have to toss the ingredients together and simply leave the meat to sit. If time permits, you can leave the meat soaking in the fridge overnight. Perhaps you can even make a puree out of the marinade to make it easier for the flavours to infuse. If you’re running late, you can cut the meat into smaller pieces and let them sit for at least 30 minutes and voilà! Tasty meat in no time. For seafood – a more delicate protein – give less soak time as the acids in the marinade can cook it through.
The art of marinades is pretty straightforward, but there are a few guidelines to follow. First of all, containers are important to consider, especially if you’re planning to let your meat sit overnight. Glass and plastics are your best bets since they are non-reactive. Tin and aluminium containers can corrode and wooden bowls never work well under prolonged exposure to acidic liquids.
Next, consider food safety. If the marinade has already been exposed to raw meat, under no circumstances are you to turn it into ready-to-eat sauce. Do keep your marinade in airtight containers and don’t let it sit for more than an hour outside of the fridge.
Give your senses a workout: Look at the freshness of your ingredients, smell the different aromas, taste the flavours, and experiment! Check out our recipes and find creative ways to infuse delicious flavours (and your signature flair!) into your dishes that guests will love.Want more articles and recipes like this?