Ready to add an incredible layer of flavor to your meal by simply letting the food sit in the fridge? Marinating is a versatile and fun cooking method that’s easier than you think – you just need a simple framework of knowledge.
Understand what marinade does
Marinade uses acid to break down proteins in meat, naturally tenderizing it and allowing it to better absorb spices and other flavors. The oil seals in moisture and adds a level of heat protection. A reminder on the acid factor, though: Matt Rotroff, Business Development Manager at Meats By Linz, warns that if meat is left in citrus fruit for more than 24 hours, it will start to “cook”, as it does. with ceviche, or marinated fish.
Have fun experimenting with your ingredients
The sky is the limit with marinades, and the process really lends itself to scratch cooking because once you know the frame, you can let your creativity fill in the blanks. It all starts with the number three: the base ratio is three parts oil to one part acid. The acid can be vinegar, wine, citrus, or yogurt, while the oil can be sesame, canola, olive, or even fish sauce. Beef, chicken, vegetables, and tofu can generally take the same marinades, with the variety coming more from the flavor profile. In addition to oil and acid, you also need to consider a third component: flavor! These are herbs, spices, aromatics and salt.
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Chicken might take apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire marinade in an American-style approach, while Middle Eastern recipes might use yogurt and mint, and Asian flavors use rice wine and ginger. Salmon can take a fresh slant, with tarragon and white wine, or a Japanese profile, with miso and mirin, a sweet cooking wine. If you’re looking for a nice Arctic char, adding a small amount of honey or maple syrup can help foods caramelize during cooking.
Match your meat with your method
The two reasons for marinating meat are to tenderize and provide extra flavor. Since Meats By Linz specializes in premium cuts, Rotroff says higher-tier meats like porterhouse and rib eye can actually be ruined by marinades, but more affordable meats like flank or sirloin will really benefit, especially the tenderization.
Know your timing
Marinade may not be ideal when you’re pressed for time, but it doesn’t take as long as you think. For beef and chicken, Rotroff says two hours can do the trick. You don’t want to exceed about 24 hours, as the marinade can toughen the meat. For fish, the general rule is 30 minutes, otherwise the fish may start to cook. The vegetables only need about 30 minutes, as they don’t need to be tenderized.
Put care in the preparation
Think of ways to help the marinade penetrate the food. This means cutting and removing the skin when possible. As an added benefit, the smaller pieces allow for faster cooking. When you prepare your marinade, calculate the portions correctly so that you have enough: think of a half cup per pound of meat. Don’t forget to reserve some for the sauce before plunging the meat. Once you’re ready to get started, one of the easiest ways to dispense the marinade and help with cleanup is to use a plastic zip-top bag, although non-metal lined bowls also work. . Don’t use aluminum foil because a chemical reaction could ruin your whole recipe. Remember never to marinate at room temperature. Slide your food into the fridge, set a timer and enjoy the anticipation!