Marinades tenderizes and flavours meat, poultry game, fish and even vegetables and cheese. Although tenderizing may not be necessary when using a slow cooker, it is worth doing for the flavour. There are three basic types of marinade; moist, dry and paste. Always use a non-metallic dish for marinating.
Basic moist marinade
Moist marinades are usually made with oil and vinegar, or other acidic ingredients, such as wine, fruit juice or yogurt. They add moisture as well as flavour.
Red meat, poultry and game can be marinated for up to 2 hours at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator; small pieces of meat, such as steaks, chops and cutlets, should be marinated for no more than 2 hours at room temperature; whole fish, fish fillets and steaks should be marinated for up to 30 minutes at room temperature, or 2 hours in the refrigerator; vegetables need 30 minutes at room temperature, or 2 hours in the refrigerator; cheeses and tofu can be marinated for 1 hours at room temperature, or about 8 hours in the refrigerator.
SUFFICINT FOR 900G/ 2LB MEAT OR FISH OR 675G/1 ½ LB VEGETABLES
90ml/6 tbsp olive oil
15-30ml/ 1-2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
5ml/ 1tsp dried thyme
2.5ml/ ½ tsp crushed peppercorns
- Combine all the ingredients using 15ml/.1 tbsp vinegar for fish and 30ml/2tbsp vinegar for meat or vegetables.
- If you are marinating meat or fish with skin, make several shallow slashes in each piece, then in a shallow dish.
- Drizzle or brush the marinade over the food, making sure the pieces are completely covered, then leave to marinate, turning the pieces regularly.
Other moist marinades
You can make several other marinades, using the same techniques and timings as for the basic moist marinade.
Spicy yogurt marinade: Combine 175ml/6fl oz cup plain yogurt, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2.5ml/ ½ tsp each ground cumin and cinnamon and crushed black peppercorns, a pinch each of ground ginger, ground cloves, cayenne pepper and salt. Use for chicken, lamb and fish.
Hoisin marinade: Combine 175ml/6fl oz/ 1 cup hoisin sauce, 30ml/2 tbsp each sesame oil, dry sherry and rice vinegar 4finely chopped garlic cloves, 2.5ml/ ½ tsp soft light brown sugar, 1.5ml/ ¼ tsp five-spice powder. Use this Chinese marinade for chops and chicken pieces.
Coconut and pineapple: Blend ¼ peeled, chopped pineapple, juice of ½ lime and 150ml/ ¼ pint/ cup coconut milk in a food processor. Use for chicken and pork.
Thai: Soak 30ml/1 tbsp tamarind pulp in 45ml/3 tbsp boiling water until softened then press through a fine sieve into a pan. Finely chop 1 lemon grass stalk, 2.5cm/1 in piece fresh galangal or ginger, 2 shallots, 2 garlic cloves, 2 seeded green chillies and 2 kaffir lime leaves and place in a blender with 30ml/2 tbsp each groundnut (peanut) oil and dark soy sauce. Blend to a paste and add to cool. Use for beef, pork or chicken.
Wine: Combine 75ml/5 tbsp wine, 30ml/2 tbsp olive oil, 2 finely chopped shallots, a pinch of dried herbs or 10ml/2 tsp chopped fresh such as rosemary. Use red wine for red meat and duck, and white wine for chicken and fish.
Basic dry marinade
Also known as dry rubs, these herbs and spice mixtures are rubbed into food shortly before cooking. They are used purely for flavouring and so are best used on fattier pieces of meat, oily fish, or for braised dishes. You can vary the flavour by using different spices, such as cardamom, dry-roasted cumin seeds or a little chilli powder, or try a dried herb mixture with some grated citrus rind.
SUFFICINT FOR 900G/ 2LB MEAT OR FISH
15ml/1 tbsp dried thyme
15ml/1 tbsp dried oregano
15ml/1 tbsp garlic granules
15ml/1 tbsp ground cumin
15ml/1 tbsp ground paprika
2.5ml/ ½ tsp cayenne pepper
2.5ml/ ½ tsp ground black pepper
- Combine the ingredients in a bowl, then transfer the mixture to a shallow dish and spread out in an even layer.
- Press each piece of meat or fish into the mixture to coat evenly, then gently shake off any excess. Arrange on a dish, cover with clear film (plastic wrap) and leave to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or use immediately.
Because these coat the food, it should be cooked above the level of the liquid – such as on a bed of vegetables.
Herbs paste: Heat 50g/ 2oz/ ¼ cup butter in a frying pan and gently fry 115g/4oz finely chopped shallots are soft. Remove from the heat and stir in 2.5cm/1 in piece grated fresh ginger, 30ml/2 tbsp each chopped fresh dill and parsley and 15-30ml/1-2 tbsp sunflower oil to make a paste. Spread over chicken pieces or tuck under the skin, or use to fill the cavity of whole fish. Marinate for up to 1 hour at room temperature, or cook straight away. Use for food with a short cooking time.
Mexican chilli paste: Combine the finely grated rind of 1 lime, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 30ml/2 tbsp mild chilli powder, 15ml/ tbsp ground paprika, 5ml/1 tsp ground cumin, 2.5ml/ ½ tbsp dried oregano and a pinch each of ground cinnamon and salt. Stir in 15ml/1 tbsp olive oil and enough lime juice to make into a paste. Use for chicken and pork. Marinate for up to 1 hour at room temperature, or cook straight away.
Tandoori paste: Mix together 30ml/2 tbsp each ground coriander, cumin and garlic powder, 15ml/1 tbsp each paprika and ground ginger and 10ml/2 tsp each ground turmeric and chilli powder with enough groundnut (peanut) oil to make a paste. Use for lamb, beef, chicken and oily fish. Marinate for up to 2 hours at room temperature, or cover and leave overnight in the refrigerator. Scrape off the excess paste before cooking.
Certainfruit contain enzymes that soften the fibres of meat and tougher seafood, such as squid. Papaya, pineapple and kiwi fruit all contain papain, which breaks down protein and is used in commercial tenderizers. Add a little of the juice to a marinade, or slice the fruit and place on top of the meat or fish and leave for no longer than 15 minutes.