Three Components of Marinades

Three Components of Marinades

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 -

  • Oil and acid marinades

  • Oil and aromatic marinades

  • Acid and aromatic marinades

  • Dry marinades and rubs

Liquid Marinades

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 ceviche.

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 should -

  1. Prepare the items to be marinated and place them in a pan large enough to hold the ingredients comfortably.

  2. Add the marinade and turn the ingredient to coat evenly.

  3. 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 marinade's flavors.

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.

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