The Science, Secrets and Myths of Marinades


Often you hear people say: don’t use salt in a marinade it will make the meat tough! I have this Indian cookbook that I love: How to Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor and he always calls for salt in his marinades.

What’s up with that?  Here is a cookbook that always gives me tasty results telling me to do something so often I am told not to. To get to the bottom of this conundrum I asked Mr. Google and of course the first article I looked at said don’t add salt to meat marinades it sucks out the moisture and makes the meat tough. Something told me I need more information than this because Mr Kapoor is a pretty smart cook and I don’t think he would be intentionally be making his meat tough – so I soldiered on. What I came across was so scientific and thorough it convinced me that the myth of salt in a marinade making meat tough is indeed a myth.  The article is written by a guy aptly named Mr Meathead,  on and is a treatise on marinades and meat like no other I have ever read.  If you cook meat, marinade meat or even have just a passing interest in how marinades work you have to check this site out.  Mr Meathead knows his stuff and breaks it down so intelligently it’s hard to argue with him. He talks about salt – which he uses, sugar and how it’s best used in long low slow cooking, he even uses green dye to show you how far the marinade soaks into the meat or fish and suggests cross hatching to help it sink in deeper.  Amazing, really helpful and authoritative.



About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note:
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1 Response to The Science, Secrets and Myths of Marinades

  1. Sandi says:

    How did we ever survive without Google? Thanks for that great link; yet another cooking mystery solved!

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