Originally, marinades were intended to both
preserve and tenderize tough meats. In contemporary kitchens, they are
more often used to add flavor to naturally tender meats, fish and
vegetables. The three components of marinades are oil, acids, and
aromatics (spices, herbs and vegetables).
Oil are used primarily to protect and
preserve foods, either as they marinate or during cooking. Acids, such as
vinegar, yoghurt, wine and citrus juices, change the food's texture. In
some cases, it will make foods firmer, as happens when fish is marinated
in lime juice to make ceviche. In others, it will break down connective
fibers making foods seem more tender, as happens when beef is marinated in
red wine for several days to make sauerbraten.
There are four different types of marinates,
made from the three basic types of ingredients -
Liquid marinades are used to soak foods
before or after cooking, or as a means of cooking foods chemically, by
denaturing the proteins in a food. Marinades made from oils and acids are
typically used to add flavor and some moisture to foods. They are prepared
using the same ratio of oil to acid as a classic vinaigrette - three parts
oil to one part acid. These marinades are often used as a preliminary step
when grilling foods. Oil and spice marinades are used for the same
purpose. Marinades that include acids and spices, and no oil, are used to
flavor foods, as well as to chemically cook them as happens when preparing
The ingredients should be selected according
to the marinade's intended use. Select the oil, if any, and the acid
carefully, plus the desired seasonings and aromatics. Almost any oil can
be used, depending on the desired effect. Commonly used acidic ingredients
include vinegar, fruit juice, wine and beer. Aromatics or other flavoring
combinations such as a mirepoix may be included.
Some marinades are cooked before use, others
are not. In some cases, the marinade is used to flavor an accompanying
sauce, or may itself become a dipping sauce. To use a liquid marinade, you
Prepare the items to be marinated and place
them in a pan large enough to hold the ingredients comfortably.
Add the marinade and turn the ingredient to
Marinate for the length of time indicated by
the recipe, type of main product, or desired result.
Dry Marinades and Rubs
A dry marinade is a mixture of salt, crushed
or chopped herbs, spices and occasionally other aromatics, such as citrus
zest. In some cases, the marinade is mixed with oil to make a paste. The
marinade is rubbed over the food, usually meats and fish, and the coated
item is then allowed to stand, under refrigeration to absorb the
Dry marinades may be referred to as "rubs".
Once the ingredients have been properly blended, they are packed or rubbed
onto the surface of the food. They may be left on the food during cooking
to develop a richly flavored crust. Alternately, they may be scraped away
before cooking. One classic use for a dry marinade is the preparation of
barbecued beef dishes and Tandoori chicken.