How to Make Marinades

When you have some blah boneless chicken breasts, fish steaks or even vegetables to grill, broil or roast, the marinade is a great weapon to have in your arsenal. A tasty marinade takes about 5 minutes to whip up. Then you just let the food sit in it for at least an hour before cooking and you’ve added instant flavor (except it takes an hour, but you don’t have to do anything during that time, so pour your pre-dinner glass of wine and watch a little Iron Chef while you’re waiting). Reserve a little of the marinade and pass it at the table for drizzling over the cooked food — it will make you feel fancy.

Why not buy bottled marinade? you ask. Because it’s full of corn syrup and weird things like xantham gum, and besides, pouring something out of a bottle isn’t real cooking. Now stop whining and make your marinade.

To build a basic marinade, whisk together (makes enough for 4 servings):

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. any vinegar or 1-2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice plus ½ tsp. of the zest
  • 1-2 tsp. seasoning mix or 1 tbsp. fresh herbs, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Now experiment with adding flavor. For instance, you might add: minced ginger, onion, scallion or chile; red pepper flakes; mustard; grated Parmesan; or toasted sesame seeds. Use your imagination and clean out your pantry.

Example Recipe: Lime-Mustard Marinade

I used this marinade on broiled swordfish steaks. It was very tasty and very simple. Combine:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, minced
  • 1½ tbsp. lime juice plus ½ tsp. lime zest
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
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3 thoughts on “How to Make Marinades

  1. […] season is upon us, I have been making a lot of spice pastes. I like spice pastes better than marinades for grilling or roasting bone-in chicken pieces with the skin on, because the spices adhere to the […]

  2. […] I got in the photo. I plan to make cilantro and parsley pesto to freeze, as well as a mixed-herb marinade for grilling chicken this week, seeing as how all the other perennial herbs are coming back as […]

  3. […] water on my kitchen table, and they inspired my cooking all week, leading me to make herb-infused marinades and vinaigrettes, as well as to sprinkle fresh herbs on pretty much everything I cooked. Still, […]

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