How to marinate / marinade chicken, lamb, beef, seafood?
The purpose of marinating meats (Chicken, lamb, beef, seafood) is two fold: gelatinize the collagens and infuse the meats with spice flavors. Gelatinizing makes meats tender.
Acids and Fats
Acids are used in conjunction with salt and fats. The most common acid used in Indian Marinades is whole milk Dahi yogurt. The Dahi yogurt provides both the lactic acid and the fat. The best example of this marinade is Tandoori Marinate.
For acid, some recipes will lime juice, tomato juice, or vinegar. For fat, vegetable oil may be added
The most common enzyme is flesh of Papaya (Papain). One of the active ingredient in many commercially sold meat tenderizers in United States is Papain. Other examples are Pineapple, Mango, Kiwi, and even ginger. The enzymes do not tenderize any meats that are marinated in the refrigerator. Enzymes need warmer temperatures (104º F). Also, depending on the enzyme type, they die at temperature between 140 and 160º F. Therefore, for marinating needs to be done between 104 and 140º F.
Salt enhances the gelatinization. It makes the meats to absorb and retain moisture to make meats juicy.
Spices such as minced garlic, peppers, cinnamon, are added for flavoring, they do not play any role in breaking down the collagens.
If you just soak the meats in the marinade, it will only tenderize the surface. Cover the meat with some of the marinade and then pierce it by stabbing with the tip of a sharp knife or a fork nearly every ½ inch. These cuts are only visible when the meat is raw, the cuts are rarely visible after cooking. Now select a pot that does not react with acid, put the meat and marinate in the pan, cover it with a lid. I prefer a glass.
An alternate to Jaccarding is old fashioned pounding by Mallet, Normally done to chicken breast.
This is the least understood part. The ideal time and temperature for meat to marinate resulting in collagens to break down is about 8 hours at 104º F. Lower temperatures (e.g., refrigerator) and/or lower times only enhance the flavor of meats, and not tenderize the meats. In India it was not uncommon to let the meats sit in an earthen pot with marinate for the whole day or overnight before cooking. The acids and salt in the marinate control the growth of unwanted bacteria, subsequent cooking kills the remaining bacteria. In China, the duck is marinated with yogurt in a closet for two days with no ill effects. It boils down to your own comfort level.
Tandoori Marinate is commonly used for Chicken. The Salt, Dahi Yogurt, ginger, tomato/vinegar and oil help with tenderization. The chicken should be pierced. The other spices help infuse flavors. The chicken should be marinated at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours.
Add 2 Tablespoon of raw papaya and ¼ teaspoon of salt per pound of meat.
In India Papaya is the most common tenderizer used. The leaves, and skin of green raw papaya contains enzyme called Papain. The connective tissue in the meat is broken down when it comes in contact with Papain. In United States, Papain is available in Grocery stores as Meat Tenderizer produced by Adolph.
Peel green skin up to ¼" deep off the raw papaya. This has the highest amount of Papain. If you score the skin a raw Papaya with knife, the fruit will exude a milky white substance known as the latex that contains Papain.
The Papain is active over 104º F, and it starts to die if the temperature reaches over 160º F. Put your meat and tenderizer in a glassware with lid. Put it in an warm oven, wrap it in electric blanket at 'low' for a couple of hours.
Tandoori Marinate is also used to marinate Seafood. The process is not used as a tenderizer, it is used to add flavors. Seafood should not be marinated for more than 30 minutes.
Aluminum is not suitable as it might impart bitterness. Stainless steel may corrode because of level of salt and acids. Most appropriate containers for marinating are glassware, and plastics.
Marinating process results in loss of iron, zinc, and magnesium.
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