Marinades and Rubs

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

In the case of large solid chunks of meat or fish, it’s easy to get herb and spice flavors onto the food surface, but not so easy to get them inside. Water- and oil-based marinades coat the meat with flavorful liquid, while pastes and dry rubs put the solid aromatics in more direct contact with the meat surface. Because flavors are mainly fat-soluble molecules, and meat is 75% water, flavor molecules can’t move very far inside. A distinctly salty marinade or rub can help somewhat by disrupting the meat tissue and making it easier for some slightly water-soluble aromas to penetrate it. A more efficient method is to use a cooking syringe, and inject small portions of the flavorful liquid into many different parts of the meat interior.