How to Marinate Foods for Extra Flavour?

2 02 2013

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Image from Flickr creative commons via Dplanet:

Chicken, steak, shrimps, peppers and aubergine – just some of the foods that are delicious on their own, and fantastic when marinated. So what is marinating? Essentially it is the act of soaking food in a liquid during the cooking process to help infuse it with various flavours and colour that would otherwise have been absent. Put simply, a marinade can help to turn it from a standard dish into a taste sensation and can ensure that people are talking about your incredible prawns or amazing steak a long time after the meal has finished.

Think about a boneless, skinless chicken breast. On its own it’s a perfectly good meal that can be cooked in a number of ways and added to anything from pasta to a salad. However, with a bit of preparation you can quickly and simply turn a chicken breast into a juicy and mouth-watering dish that is perfect for barbeques or preparing inside on range cookers. What’s more, the taste will ensure that marinating becomes your new favourite hobby in the kitchen! Balsamic vinegar, thyme, oregano, rosemary, onion powder and mustard can be combined to make a great little marinade for instance. Something a little more adventurous such as an orange, ginger and sesame marinade can produce a fantastic dish too.

Oil tends to be used as the basis for marinades and there are plenty to choose from. Think about olive or sesame, peanut or perhaps walnut oil. Alternatively you could use a dairy product such as milk, yogurt or perhaps even coconut milk. If you are concerned about using too much oil because of health reasons then substituting it for something like coconut milk is a great idea.

Keeping an eye on the clock is important when you are marinating as you do not want the process to spoil the food or affect its flavour in anything but a completely fabulous way! While something like beef is fine to marinate for 24 hours, you only really want to be bathing something like seafood for less than an hour. Any more than that and you risk the chance of it becoming mushy as a result of the acid in the marinade.

Safety is important when you are marinating food too. Always marinate in the fridge as doing so at room temperature with raw meat can allow bacteria to multiply quickly. And remember to use a container made from glass or food-safe plastic as metal dishes can react with the food.

Reusing marinade is not recommended, although it is possible to take a marinade that has been in contact with raw meat and then boil it for a few minutes to destroy harmful bacteria. If you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the finished dish then either make an extra portion, or separate out some of the marinade before adding raw meat.

The only limitation when it comes to creating marinades is your imagination. Trying new flavour combinations is all part of the fun and while you might end up with an absolute stinker of a concoction, with a bit of practice you might come up with a recipe that will end up getting passed down through the generations!

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