Fresh Mango Marinade opens in a new tabIf you’re like me, you’ll grill anything you possibly can – meat, chicken, fish, veggies, fruit, tofu and tempeh – and one thing is certain: Using a marinade or dry rub makes all the difference in the world!
Rubs add wonderful depth of flavor with herbs and spices, and marinades help tenderize meats, adding flavor as well. One of my favorites, is this Fresh Mango Marinade opens in a new tab that reminds me of grilling outdoors in Hawaii
Go Ahead, Rub It In
You’ll find a world of ready-made rub flavors on store shelves and in the meat department, and you can easily make your own, too.
Whichever you choose, you’ll need about two tablespoons of dry rub for every pound of meat or vegetables you have. Simply sprinkle over food and rub it into the surface with your fingers. You can also put the rub in a resealable plastic bag, add the other ingredients, zip it up and give it a good shake to completely coat.
Making your own rub means you choose exactly the ingredients and flavors you want. Many of our stores sell spices and dried herbs in the bulk department and you can get as much or as little as you need – a fun way to experiment with flavors. If you are limiting sodium or sugar, making your own rub is a great idea or look for rubs from Healthy Earth Seasoning that don’t contain salt or sugar.
Need a little inspiration, try a combination of a few or several of the following:
Salt, pepper and dried spices like curry powder, cumin, coriander, chili powder (a mix of ground chiles, cumin, garlic, oregano, coriander and cloves) or chile powder (ancho and chipotle are awesome), smoked and sweet paprika, and cayenne pepper.
Our Lone Star Dry Rub opens in a new tab is made with celery salt, white pepper, powdered mustard and sesame seeds.
Dried garlic, ginger, chives and onion granules or powder.
Basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, cilantro, parsley, tarragon and other dried herbs.
Brown or natural, dark sugars like Sucanat, Muscovado and Coconut Palm Sugar. Sugars will caramelize when heated creating a great crust. Sweet and Savory Seafood Rub opens in a new tab is made with a little brown sugar. It’s great on thick fish filets like salmon, snapper or tuna.
So Many Marinades
Giving meats, fish, poultry and even veggies, fruit and tofu a good soak in a seasoned liquid before grilling can really enhance the food’s flavor. The combinations are endless so have some fun with it. I’ve found that these ingredients make fabulous marinades:
Fish sauce, hoisin sauce or tamari soy sauce. Apricot and Tamari Grilling Marinade opens in a new tab is great on tofu, tempeh, chicken and veggies like eggplant and summer squash.
Dark, toasted sesame oil or olive oil. Firecracker Grilled Salmon opens in a new tab is marinated in ginger, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil and crushed red chile flakes.
Red or green Thai curry paste.
Yogurt or buttermilk – these act as natural tenderizers. Indian-Style Spicy Yogurt Marinade opens in a new tab is flavored with garam masala.
Fresh ginger, garlic, chives, onions, green onions and shallots. Gingery Garlicky Tempeh opens in a new tab is slightly sweet and spicy!
Jalapeño, serrano and other chile peppers. Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops opens in a new tab are flavored with Thai chiles and fish sauce.
An acidic ingredient such as lemon, lime, orange or pineapple juice, or some variety of vinegar or wine. Classic Vinaigrette opens in a new tab is a great marinade to keep on hand for chicken, shrimp, steak and veggies.
Honey, agave, maple syrup or cane sugar adds sweetness. Try Korean-Style Grilled Steak opens in a new tab served over a leafy green salad.
Here are some timing “rules” for marinating:
Never marinate fish or shellfish longer than 20 to 30 minutes in a citrus- or vinegar-based mixture! You can actually cook the fish from the acid in the marinade.
Veggies such as bell peppers, onions, summer squash, etc. can be marinated for 30 minutes or longer, but no more than an hour or two is necessary.
Thick veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes and thick cuts of carrots need to be parboiled first.
Marinate pineapple, peaches, plums, and nectarines for about 30 minutes.
Marinate tofu and tempeh for at least an hour to overnight.
Beef, game, bison and pork can be marinated for an hour to overnight.
Poultry with skin and bone can be marinated for an hour or a little longer, but thin, boneless cuts need only 30 minutes. Over-marinating can change the texture of chicken, making it a little mushy.
What’s your favorite way to flavor grilled foods? Got a rub or marinade recipe you’d like share?