To put it simply marinating is the process of soaking foods in a seasoned liquid before cooking. The process serves two different purposes: to tenderise (the science) and to enhance flavour (the art).
The tenderising occurs from the base ingredient of the liquid, or the ‘marinade’. It can either be mildly acidic made with vinegar, citrus juice or wine, or enzymatic, made with ingredients such as pineapple, papaya or kiwi fruit.
The natural acids of the marinade cidic marinades “denature” the proteins in the raw meat or fish, loosening the bonds with the water in the meat. However over time, they actually force out the water and cause the meat to toughen.
The optimum times for marinating differs from food to food, here’s a rule of thumb to work with:
Chicken on the bone -1 hour
Boneless chicken -40 minutes
Fish -30 minutes
Shrimp -15 minutes
Lamb chops -40 minutes
Beef joint -2 hours
Beef large steaks -1 hour
Beef small steaks -40 minutes
Now the art refers to the other purpose of the marinade: to imbue the meat, fish or vegetables with additional flavour, by absorbing the liquid’s oils, herbs and spices further into the food.
Given the nearly infinite things one can use as a marinade, the possibilities are endless. Here’s three simple marinades that work well at any raki table.
For 1-2 pounds of lamb or chicken, whisk ingredients in a bowl, and marinate for the required time.
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated onion
Mint Delight Marinade
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 17 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of Tahini paste
- 1 teaspoon hot chili powder
- 1 cup of raw pine nuts
- 1.5 cups Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
- 4 cups of water
- 1-2 tablespoons of salt (to taste)
- 5-6 tablespoons of ground coriander
- Olive Oil
Share, savour, enjoy!