Before we directly go on to understanding how food marination can change the taste of food, it becomes essential to understand what marination exactly means and why is it used while preparing some dishes, particularly meat and fish.
Marination is basically a process wherein foods are soaked in acidic (lemon juice, vinegar or wine) or enzymatic (papaya or pineapple) and seasoned liquids before they are cooked. By doing so, there is an addition of flavor to the ingredients when they are soaked in liquids. Further flavor to the food items is added when the marinade consists of herbs, spices and oils too. (The liquid in which the food items are immersed is called ‘marinade’).
Now, why marinate the foods at all? The entire process serves two different functions: i) it acts as a tenderizer and ii) it acts as a flavor enhancer.
Coming down to the main question in discussion here, how food marination can change the taste of the food?
- Different flavors can be induced into the food that is being marinated. A good marinade could be herbs, spices or flavors and as it is acidic in nature the flavors will get into the foods that are being marinated.
- Generally marinades have some oil content in them. Olive oil tops the list of all those ardent cooking lovers as it is touted as one of the best oils that we have around which contains diglycerides and monoglycerides. When these natural emulsifiers are present, penetration into the meats becomes quicker. You will have to just check the label for nice marinade oil and pick it from the racks.
- Marination is a process needed especially for the meats. When you cook them over direct flame, HCAs…heterocyclic amines are created which are potential cancer causing bodies. So, in order to reduce the amount of risk involved in the process, an acidic marinade is used. You may ask, what are acidic marinades? Any citrus juices, beer or even wine would perfectly fit the bill.
- Food marination can make the ingredients of the food more tender. Breaking down the protein chains that exist in meats becomes easy when you marinate the food. However, you should ensure that the food sits in the marinade only for a specific duration of time.
There is more taste added to the foods, and flavors seep into the food item that is being soaked in the marinade. One gets to consume healthier food stuff once the process is completed and the food is prepared. So easy and harmless on the stomach, marination adds to the taste of the dish that is being made.