Typically blends of an acid (such as vinegar), plus oil, salt, and seasonings, marinades are a terrific way to boost the flavor of meats and fish. The acid and salt tenderize tough fibers, while the oil acts as a flavor carries. To marinate successfully, use a nonreactive container, such as one made of glass, ceramic, or even plastic. Avoid aluminum containers because the acid in your marinade will react with this metal and begin to corrode it, causing off flavors in the food. Also, always refrigerate foods while they marinate, and keep in mind that the larger the food, the longer its marinating time will be. If using the marinade for basting, avoid cross-contamination by setting aside a small amount of marinade before adding any raw meat, poultry, or fish to it. If you forget to do this, be sure to boil any used marinade for at least 5 minutes to kill harmful bacteria. Then, the leftover marinade can be used for basting. Or, you can boil it down to use as a sauce.
If you need the marinades to penetrate more deeply, prick the food with a skewer before adding to the marinade. Marinades can also be used to tenderize tough meats as well as delivering flavor. Avoid relying on them to make meat tender. Instead, choose naturally tender meats. That said, some marinade ingredients have a tenderizing effect that can be beneficial for tough cuts of meat. Yogurt, papaya, pineapple, and kiwifruit are natural meat tenderizers because of the enzymes that they contain. Add one quarter cup plain yogurt, fresh or canned papaya juice, pineapple juice, or pureed kiwifruit to the marinade for every 1 pound of meat being marinated. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 3 hours to allow the enzymes in the marinade to start to bread down the meat fibers. Or include buttermilk or sour cream in the marinade to help tenderize the meat.
** Asian Recipes