How to Marinate
Note: Seasoning and marinade are cousins, in that seasoning becomes marinade when adding certain oils and or water, as well as some other ingredients that we will discuss below.
The goals at hand when marinating are to give tenderness, flavor, and longer "shelf life" to our food (Longer shelf-life simply means that the food will not spoil as fast, for example, chicken has a specific expiration date when kept in the fridge, however, this date can be extended if the chicken is marinated first and then put in the fridge. In fact, marinating foods first can help preserve them better, even when they are kept in the freezer). The main ingredients of Marinade are Oil, spices, salt & pepper, water, and acid from food such as lemons (salt in specific, allows for better preservation of food, but it does not have to be added).
We can use any oil, such as olive, canola, vegetable, soy bean, or others, depending on the flavor we want to bring out. Oil also acts as layer for "sealing" our ingredients and eliminates the oxygen, adding more shelf life. Oil is always our first ingredient, and for every pound (lb) of meat we use 3 tablespoons of oil.
For best results, use Olive or Canola oil, or a mix of both to a 60/40 ratio.
SPICE and HERB
We can use any creation or recipe of dry or fresh spices and herbs, mixing the two creates the seasoning, but always keep in mind the "salt and pepper rule." Example: If you want to make a simple oregano based seasoning, using 1 part oregano, just add salt and pepper to taste. Keep in mind the amount of the seasoning has to be 1 tablespoon for every cup of liquid. (For those of us who wish to avoid salt and pepper, they can substituted for other ingredients, such as garlic.)
Why Water? Because water allows for moisture and creates steam while the meat is cooking, making it more tender. As the "blood content" in our meat increases, we want to use less water, for the obvious reason that blood can also serve as a cooking liquid, and adding more water may make the meat soggy.
Another reason water can be helpful is because water saturated meat is harder to burn when it is being grilled. For white meat we use 1 tablespoon of water for every lb., and for red meat 1 teaspoon for every lb.
Mixing water and oil when marinating meat also forces the ingredient-spiced water to penetrate the meat since oil tends to stay on top of water, causing the ingredients to really soak into the meat, giving it a tastier, more evenly distributed flavor.
Acidity is the "secret" behind any flavorful marinade. Lemons, vinegar, apple cider, pineapples, tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, and tomatoes are the most commonly used for their pressed or extracted "acids". The acidity fulfills the flavor pallet, giving the character of your creation. Use 1 teaspoon for every lb. of meat. So be as creative as possible, keep the rules, and why not BREAK THEM! If you want, Hey! you never know! Something new and flavorful is coming up!
There was never a need to marinate fish. In fact, in some places in the Mediterranean, the fishermen used to take fresh fish, split them in half, and rub olive oil and sea salt on them before leaving them in the direct sun. Others used to Pickle fish in a bucket!
A simple fish marinade is:
1 part of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of Oregano
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Ground Fresh Pepper
Sea Salt and Pepper
It is very difficult to cook fish, one of the hardest! For the best results, when you buy calamari, try to pick ones that reside in South American or Mediterranean waters, because for one reason or another I tend to find that ones picked in these regions are fresher and tastier.The Country of Origin has to be South America or Mediterranean!
Don't over cook it. One of my customers uses full fat milk or heavy cream, thyme, mustard powder, and salt and pepper.
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