Marinating 101

Marinades are the perfect accessories for a dish, embellishing food with a wholesome punch of flavour. Apart from enhancing the taste of food, marinades also help tenderize meat, giving you that succulent and tasty bite. A marinade mix typically involves 1 part acid, 2 parts fat/oil and 3 parts seasoning. The oil prevents the marinade from drying out, moistens the meat and the spices packs the flavour. The acidic component adds a tang and tenderizes the meat, allowing the oil and spices to sink deep. Marinades can also vary in consistency- there are dry rubs, pastes and sauces that are used to flavour food. Fun fact

  • Marinating meat dates back to the Renaissance when cooks packed the meat with spices, buried it in salt or preserved it with vinegar to add shelf life.
  • Marinades were originally made with briny liquids like seawater and were meant to preserve food while making it tender and flavouring it.
  • The word marinade comes from the latin word ‘marinara’, which means “of the sea”.

BrownApron Chicken


Let’s go through some tips and tricks that will make you a marinating extraordinaire:

  • Mix the marinade thoroughly. Blending it can help combine the ingredients together, especially since oils and acids don’t naturally mix well.
  • Citrus and vinegar make stronger marinades that tenderizes the meat faster.
  • Go easy on the salt. Salt will dry the food, denying you of that juicy and succulent bite. Add salt just before grilling/cooking the meat to bring out its natural flavour.
  • Make sure that the food being marinated is covered well. Rub in the marinade gently and flip it over to ensure the marinade coats the food.

BrownApron Bannur Mutton

  • Remember to use a non-reactive container to store the food. Glass, stainless steel containers and plastic bags are ideal. Plastic bags/pouches help make the clean-up process easier, and who wouldn’t like the mess free ease it provides? Stay away from aluminium vessels as it can react with acids to change the colour and flavour of food.
  • It’s best to leave the food marinating in the fridge in a closed container.
  • Never pour raw, leftover marinade sauce over food. It’s always best to use the marinades immediately as it will give the dish a brighter and vibrant flavour. If you want to serve the marinade with food, boil it for a few minutes to kill any harmful bacteria.
  • Don’t pour the marinade over food while it is cooking. It will make it very stew-like, and can cause flare-ups. Brush the food with a little marinade before it cooking it and don’t coat it with marinade during the last few minutes of cooking time.

Marinating 101 - chili-orange-marinade


How long do I marinate it for? That’s probably a question that is running through your mind right now. To answer this, it really depends on what kind of meat it is and how soon you want to cook it.

  • Refrigerate the marinating meat unless you have to cook it within 20 minutes of preparation.
  • When marinating chicken, piercing the meat with a fork or cutting it into small chunks can help absorb the marinade better, and requires 2-3 hours of marinating time. Poultry can marinate for over 2 days in the fridge, but keep in mind that very acidic marinades can toughen the meat over time.
  • Red meat like mutton can be left to leisurely soak in all the flavour for upto 24 hours. If you can’t stand to wait that long, 4-8 hours will do the trick.
  • When marinating fish or shellfish, marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. If you leave it to marinate for too long, the fish will go dry and mushy.

With marinating, you can let your imagination run wild, throwing together creative combinations to make some delectable marinades to flavour your dishes. If you’re looking for an easy fix for marinated food, check out Brown Apron’s Ready to Cook section which has a delicious variety of marinated food for you to feast on.