Marinades are one of the easiest ways to punch up the flavour in food. Instead of grabbing store-bought sauces that are filled with unhealthy sugars, oils and sodium, gather a few basic ingredients and make your own!
To help you on your way to marinade mastery, here are some basic tips:
1. Fat helps flavours absorb
Adding a fat to your marinade will help the flavours absorb into the fatty tissue of meat, or the fibre of vegetables, and retain moisture while it cooks. Fat also curbs acids from overwhelming the flavour.
Healthy Options: Olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, peanut oil and safflower oil.
2. Acid tenderizes the food
Acids help tenderize the meat and vegetables by breaking down the connective tissue, allowing flavours to penetrate. They also counteract any bad stuff that gets produced when meat or vegetables are cooked at high temperatures, like grilling.
Healthy Options: Vinegar, wine, citrus juice, and Greek yogurt.
3. Seasonings build great flavour
With countless possibilities and combinations, here are a few suggestions:
Add a deep flavour base. Examples: Garlic, onion, fresh or dried herbs and spices.
Helps magnify the other flavours, but don’t use too much as it will draw the moisture out of meat and prevent flavours from absorbing. Examples: Sea salt, light soy sauce.
Not mandatory, but can be used to balance the acid. When cooked at a low heat, it will caramelize and add extra flavour, but at high heats it can burn and create an unpleasant taste. Examples: Brown sugar, honey, molasses.
4. Soak longer for better taste
A general rule is the longer you marinate, the more time your food has to tenderize and absorb flavours. However, fish is naturally tender, so don’t over marinate or it can become mushy.
Use our guide to marinate your meat, fish, and vegetables, just right:
- Meat and Poultry – 30 minutes, up to 48 hours
- Seafood and Fish – 15 minutes, up to 1 hour
- Vegetables – 30 minutes, up to 24 hours
5. Try one of these easy, delicious marinades below:
- The King of All Beef Marinades
Worcestershire sauce (½ cup), lemon juice (½ cup), low sodium soy sauce (½ cup), peeled and finely chopped garlic (4-5 cloves), black pepper (to taste)
- Rustic Sweet Vegetable Marinade
Olive oil (¼ cup), balsamic vinegar (⅛ cup), white wine vinegar (⅛ cup), honey (⅛ cup), rosemary (2 tbsp), salt (1 tsp), pepper (2 tsp)
- Mediterranean Chicken and Fish Marinade
Olive oil (4 tbsp), lemon juice (4 tbsp), lime juice (4 tbsp), fresh parsley (4 tbsp), coriander (4 tbsp), peeled and finely chopped garlic (3 cloves), paprika (4 tsp), cumin (2 tsp), black pepper (1tsp)
Instructions: Simple. Mix the above ingredients together and you’re ready to go!
- Do not use metal bowls when mixing your marinade because metal can cause a chemical reaction with the acids and change the flavour.
- Use glass, plastic or heavy-duty plastic storage bags. Discard your marinade after use if it has been in contact with raw meat which may contain harmful bacteria.