Marinade, Marinate

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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marinade, marinate the noun and verb respectively which indicate the familiar procedure of letting a foodstuff, especially meat or fish, soak in a flavoured liquid before being cooked. The liquid may be wine or vinegar or lemon juice or olive oil or any of numerous alternatives, and the flavours are commonly added by herbs or spices. The time needed for successful marinating will depend on the size of what is marinated and also on its texture, since both these factors govern the speed with which the marinade will penetrate to its centre. However, it must also depend on the purpose. Stobart (1980) lucidly explains the various, often overlapping and complementary, purposes which marinating achieves. An oily marinade will give unduly dry and lean meat the fat needed to make it appetizing. An acid liquid will tenderize tough meat; or, in the case of lemon or lime juice for small fish, will achieve effects like those of cooking. Salt and various flavouring ingredients will have a preserving effect. When tenderizing is the chief aim, it is not uncommon to marinate overnight.