The art of marination

The art of marination
Sinking your teeth into a succulent piece of meat can be heavenly. But, have you ever wondered how the meat acquired that tenderness? Well, it must have been the marination. Yes, marination is the process where meat is soaked in either acidic or enzymatic mixtures to tenderise it and acquire that flavoursome quality. Marination is an art. When done right, it can take the taste of the marinated dish to a different level altogether. Here are a few pointers that could help you master it:

Vinegar, lime juice, curds, soy sauce, beer and wine make the best acidic marinade base. Raw papaya and pineapple are preferred for the enzymatic base of marinades. Add spices and ginger-garlic paste, to the marinade itself, so that the meat absorbs the flavours well. Olive oil, when used in marinades, helps in better absorption of spices.

The marinade only works on the surface, so make deep cuts on the meat so that the marinade seeps in, making the entire piece of meat juicy and flavourful. Here’s a general pointer on marination time: chicken with bones — one hour; boneless chicken — 40 minutes; beef — one to two hours; lamb — one hour; pork — one hour; fish — 30 minutes and prawns — 15 minutes.

Always refrigerate the marinated meat, as refrigeration prevents the growth of harmful bacteria the meat may contain. Do not reuse the leftover marinade. Avoid freezing the marinated meat, as freezing can make the outer layer of the meat mushy when cooked.

Always use glass or food-safe plastic containers for marination. Avoid using metal containers as the lead in them reacts unfavourably with the acid in the marinade. Marination is believed reduce the production of hetercyclic amines, which are carcinogenic, during cooking.

Tough vegetables such as zucchini, cucumbers, squash and eggplant can be marinated to make them soft and flavourful.

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