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Make Your Own Marinades

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 3 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Marinate Marinade Meat Fish Cheese

Marinating food adds to the flavour, texture and smell to dishes. Marinades are especially popular for barbecues but they’re also great for indoor cooking.

What is Marinating?

When you marinate food, you soak your food – often meat, fish or vegetables – in a seasoned liquid. Marinating is popular in all sorts of international cuisines, such as Caribbean cooking and Indian food.

There are three core ingredients which form the basis of a good marinade. These are:

  • Acids – such as vinegar, orange, lemon or lime juice
  • Oils – such as nut oil and olive oil
  • Seasoning – such as dried or fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper

Other common ingredients used in marinades include:

  • Ketchup
  • Sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcester sauce
  • Yoghurt
  • Whisky

Marinating can make a big difference to your cooking but to get the best results you need to plan ahead to some extent as the longer you can let your ingredients marinade, the richer the flavours will be. You usually need between an hour and six hours for a marinade to work.

Basic Marinade

This marinade is suitable for most meats, fish and vegetable. You can also marinade cheeses such as paneer, halloumi and goats’ cheese.

You will need:

  • 2 shallots cut into four
  • Half a large onion, sliced finely
  • 2 chopped or crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander (leaves, not stalks)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt

Blend all the ingredients together, except the oil, then stir the mixture into the oil. Allow meat, fish or veg to marinate in the mixture overnight.

Spicy Marinade

Spicy marinades are very popular. Try this and adjust the heat to suit your tastes.

You’ll need:

  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped oregano
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Just mix all the ingredients together and marinate. This recipe is versatile and particularly suits chicken, fish and steak.

Yoghurt Marinade

Yoghurt marinades work especially well on chicken and lamb. Try this one on chops or chicken legs. It’s a great tenderiser, as well as adding flavour.

You’ll need:

  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 100g greek yoghurt
  • The juice of one lemon
  • Half a teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Half a teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Leave the meat to marinate for at least two hours.

Marinade Tips

  • Always marinate in the fridge – don’t leave meat and fish out at room temperature
  • Don’t marinate anything for longer than 24 hours
  • Don’t marinate in aluminium containers – use glass, ceramic or plastic.
  • An easy way to marinate ingredients is in sealable plastic bags such as freezer bags
  • Never re-use leftover marinade that has been in contact with raw meat or fish
  • If you want to use marinade for cooking or basting while meat cooks, keep some back to do this

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