Adding flavor intensifiers to our food enhances the taste, which is important in people over 60 who have some loss of the taste sensation. Immersing food in a marinade for a period of time is a great way to give food a flavor boost as well as adding moisture which results in a juicier end product. Marinating food is a technique that has been used throughout history as acidic mixtures have been used to preserve foods as far back as the Renaissance. The technique of adding flavor by immersion in liquid is also part of the pickling process when food is submerged in brine.
Marinades are commonly used to intensify flavor in foods and/or to tenderize tougher cuts of meat. Ingredients used in marinades vary with different cuisines using different marinades. An acidic element, such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice, or wine, boosts flavor and causes tissue to break down, allowing more moisture to be absorbed in meat. Oil coats the food, carries flavor and helps food stay moist. Other ingredients, such as soy sauce, herbs, spices, garlic, and fresh ginger, enhance the savory qualities of meats, fish and poultry. A good marinade has a balance of acid, oil and spices.
Maximizing surface area maximizes flavor. Small, thin cuts of meat and poultry are wonderful for marinating. (Larger cuts offer less surface area.)
For easy clean-up perhaps the best way to use a marinade is to place the item to be marinated with the marinade in a zip-top plastic bag. The bag can be turned over and over until all the food is coated. Glass, ceramic, and stainless steel bowls or pans can be used also. Avoid using a marinade in anything made of copper or aluminum however, because these metals may react to the acid in the marinade and give food a metallic taste as well as discoloring the food.
Always place marinated foods in the refrigerator for the specified time indicated on the recipe. Refrigeration will prevent or inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the food. Meats may marinate for a day or so but chicken, fish and shellfish usually marinate for several hours. Refer to the recipe for the specific time for marinating.
Flavor can be added to vegetables, olives, cheeses, and other foods by marinating them. Today’s recipe focuses on chicken fingers marinated in soy sauce, honey, ginger and other Asian-inspired spices. (I love these spices!) Following the recipe for Grilled Chicken Fingers with Peanut Sauce is another recipe for a unique way to prepare green beans. Bon Appetit!
Grilled Chicken Fingers with Peanut Sauce
Yield: 6 servings
1 1/2 pounds chicken fingers (you can cut your own from chicken breasts)
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon honey
Place chicken and marinade ingredients together in a large zip-top bag, turning the bag over to ensure all the chicken is coated with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Prepare Peanut Sauce while chicken is in the marinade. Grill chicken on outdoor grill, indoor stove top grill pan or broil for 12-15 minutes. Grill chicken until done.
(Time depends on the temperature of your grill.) Serve with rice and peanut sauce.
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all sauce ingredients and serve with chicken. Serve in individual ramekins (if available) for a nice presentation.
A friend gave me some fresh green beans out of her garden this week and this is the recipe I used to prepare them. I think it’s quite an unusual way to prepare green beans but very good!
Roasted Green Beans
3/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 small onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place beans in a saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.
Place beans in an 11″x 7″x 2″ baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with onion and garlic. Drizzle with vinegar and oil; toss to coat.
Bake, uncovered at 450 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Stir and bake 5 minutes longer.
Marinades are a great way to ramp up the flavor in certain foods. Spices and herbs added to the marinades intensify the flavors of the finished product. Try marinating meats, chicken, seafood, vegetables, cheeses – whatever! You’re sure to enjoy the intense flavor imparted by the marinade.
Remember to savor the flavor!