From figuring out what flavours pair well together, to how long you should be marinating for, the whole process can be confusing.
But, when you get it right, marinating can be the difference between a good dish and an amazing one. For all the right ways to bring out flavour in your cooking, Laura Romeo, Recipe Developer and Grill Specialist at Weber, spills her secrets on upping your marinade game.
Avoid sugary marinades
Any marinade that’s made up of a lot of sugar is likely to caramelise and burn before the food has cooked through,” Laura tells. “As a result, this creates a sticky mess on the cooking grill and that means you won’t get the full effect of the marinade.”
However, if you do go with a sugary marinade, Laura recommends cooking food over a direct medium heat or roasting with indirect heat. Otherwise, simply baste your food with a sugary sauce once it’s nearly cooked to avoid any sticking. If you do choose to barbecue foods with a sugary marinade, try cooking them over direct medium heat, or even roasting them with indirect heat.
Salt is a must
Salt is key when it comes to a magical marinade. From fish sauce to straight sea salt, Laura says this ingredient is a non-negotiable when it comes to whipping up a tasty sauce.
“Salt will add that necessary savoury, umami flavour and start to act like a briner,” she explains. “This will help the salt molecules penetrate deeper into the chosen protein, adding flavour beyond the surface.”
Adding oil to your marinade will prevent the outer seasonings, and the food, from sticking to your cooking surface, Laura says.
“It also gives the food a lovely glisten once it has finished cooking on the barbecue so it will look great plated up, too,” she adds.
Use acidity to tenderise thin cuts of meat
If you’re using thin cuts of meat, Laura advises to use a marinade with acidic ingredients to help tenderise the muscles and break down the proteins in the meat.
“Ingredients such as vinegar, citrus juice or even yoghurt, all work in breaking down those tough cuts of meat,” she tells. However, be careful - marinating too long can toughen the meat.”
Shake off excess marinade
Before you begin cooking, Laura says it is best to let any excess marinade drip off your food first.
“If you don’t shake off the extra moisture, it will reduce the temperature of the cooking grill which can cause your food to stick,” she tells. And don’t forget to start with a clean and hot cooking grill.
Bonus tip: know your marinating times
Here’s a quick guide to how long you should marinade your foods for maximum flavour and best results:
Shellfish: 15 minutes
Seafood: 30 minutes
Veggies: 30 minutes
Chicken and pork: 4 to 12 hours
Red meat: 4 to 24 Hours