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Mastering Marinades

Updated on June 10, 2015
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Raye gardens organically, harvests rainwater, strives to eat locally, and honors the gods from her home in the Pacific Northwest.

Why Marinate?

When I first started cooking, I quickly learned I could cook well enough not to go hungry. However learning to cook so that I actually really enjoyed it, or where I felt accomplished enough to feed another human being didn't come until later.

One thing that I discovered that's one of my fave cooking tricks is cooking something where you use a marinade. I think of marinade as a flavored, pre-soak for meat that's about to be cooked. Actually, when it comes to things like tofu, a marinade is often the difference between "wow, this tastes incredibly like NOTHING!" and "hey, this is actually pleasant and yummy!" It also can help make lots of chicken dishes taste more varied from each other versus that much-remarked upon "hmmm, tastes like chicken" effect. I tend to use marinades more for grilling or stir-fry.

Easy Marinade

The simplest marinade I make is soy sauce with fresh minced garlic and ginger in it.
The simplest marinade I make is soy sauce with fresh minced garlic and ginger in it.

Miso-marinated Beef

One of the coolest things I learned how to do recently was to use miso as a marinade for beef. You want a nice thick cut of meat, something that's thick and just right for broiling. For each person I like to estimate about 3/4 to one pound of beef.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste most often used in soups. The darker the miso, the more salty it tastes. For a lighter taste, you'll want to get a white miso. If you purposely want something that tastes stronger and saltier, get a yellow or red miso.

All you need to do is coat the beef with the miso, almost like a layer of frosting all over, and refrigerate covered for 12-24 hours. When it comes time to cook, you then wipe off the miso and slide the meat into the broiler for about 20-25 minutes. It's done when the outside is nice and crusty and the inside is still very pink.

Zesty Turbo Pork Marinade

Making Time For Marinade

It's true that many people wind up thinking of marinades at the last minute, when you don't have the time needed to make them work. Here are some tricks and tips for making the most of marinades.

1) Pick a day when you know you'll be busy, and start the marinade the night before. You'll appreciate the time-savings the next night when dinner cooks up fast and flavorful.

2) Try a marinade for your next picnic, and pack the meat along in a freezer-strength bag so it's well-marinated when you pull it out to put on the grill.

Try different blends of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, green onion, rice vinegar
Try different blends of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, green onion, rice vinegar

Try a Fish Marinade!

Share Your Marinade Tips and Suggestions!

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