Let the Marinades Do the Work

Marinades are like flavor elves, working behind the scenes at boosting flavors and tenderizing while the cook is off doing other things. Typically, a marinade consists of oil, vinegar, acidic ingredients such as lemon or lime, and herbs and/or spices. Another type of marinade consists of tropical fruits such as papaya and pineapple and which have enzymes to break down tissues and add flavor. Ceviche (also spelled ‘seviche’) “cooks” the seafood without any heat – only the acidity of the juices used does the trick. 

The best way to marinate is by using either a glass, plastic or enamel bowl, covering it tightly with plastic wrap, and storing it in the refrigerator. Our parents used to let things sit out at room temperature but we know better now – dangerous bacteria can thrive in a warm environment. Also, avoid using metal bowls which may have a chemical reaction with the marinade and affect the taste.

A basic yet super versatile marinade to keep on hand in the fridge is a blend of

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil,
1 tablespoon Dijon-mustard,
½ teaspoon coarse salt,
2 cloves fresh chopped garlic and the most important ingredient of all –
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.

It keeps well under refrigeration in a glass jar for 1-2 weeks (shake before using) but it won’t last that long! Drizzle it on practically anything you cook before or afterwards – from meats to veggies to salads – and it gives everything it touches a bright flavor without overpowering. It’s a marinade miracle in a bottle.

One of the worst food safety offenses is returning cooked meat, poultry or seafood to a platter which contains the raw marinade or using the raw marinade to drizzle over cooked fare. The marinade has already served its purpose and must be discarded.  The option of bringing the leftover marinade to a boil is an option, but to avoid any risk of contamination, discarding it is the safest step.


Asian Flank Steak with Orzo Pasta Salad

Asian Flank SteakBY CARRIE HIRSCH / SERVES 4-6 2 pounds flank or skirt steak

This is a quick and yummy Asian marinade, served with an orzo pasta salad – East meets West flavors meld together beautifully! Allow enough time to marinate the flank steak in advance of preparation.

MARINADE:

Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons ginger, finely minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup mirin (sweetened sake)

FLANK STEAK MARINADE:

Combine all marinade ingredients in a large glass bowl or a large sealable plastic bag. Add flank steak and marinate, refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 12. Preheat oven to 450°. Preheat broiler pan in oven for 5 minutes so it sears the flank steak. Place flank steak on a broiler pan in oven and broil for 8-9 minutes a side. Slice into thin strips across the grain or the steak will be tough.

ORZO SALAD:

1 pound orzo, cooked according to package directions
½ cup feta, crumbled
½ bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 ripe tomato, coarsely chopped and seeded
2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
1/3 cup basil leaves, julienned
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss together all orzo salad ingredients in a medium serving bowl. Can be served at room temperature or chilled. 

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