Marinades must include acidic ingredients (wine, lemon juice or vinegar), herbs or spices and oil. They can also include aromatic vegetables, such as onions and garlic. Yogurt or crème fraîche can also be used, particularly in Indian dishes. A marinade will help to keep chunks of kebab meat tender.
Red meat can be marinated in the fridge for up to 3 days, turning from time to time. Chicken and fish need shorter marinating times, as otherwise the flesh will become soggy.
Place the meat, fish or chicken in a shallow ceramic or glass dish (metal dishes can react with acidic ingredients and give an unpleasant taste). An alternative is to use a large ziplock plastic bag. Drizzle with the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for as long as you can, stirring or turning occasionally. Ideally, marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours – but if you’re short of time, marinating meat for even 10 minutes will impart some flavour.
When you’re ready to cook, remove the meat from the marinade. It’s important to then pat the meat dry with paper towels – if the meat is too wet it will stew rather than sear when you begin to cook it. You can save the marinade for basting, or if you want to use it as a sauce, always bring it to a boil first and allow it to boil for several minutes to kill any bacteria from the raw meat.
The following simple recipes take only a few minutes to prepare and will marinate about 500 g of meat.
Lemon, herb and garlic
Combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) olive oil, 2 crushed garlic cloves, and 2 teaspoons each fresh thyme and chopped fresh rosemary. Cut slashes into boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or into fillets of white fish, and pour the marinade over.
Honey, soy and sesameCombine 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) soy sauce, 2 tablespoons peanut oil, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. This marinade is delicious with chicken or beef.
Red wine and mustard
Whisk together 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) red wine, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard. This marinade is perfect for steak.