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How long to marinade?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

First time marinading fish (salmon)--Balsamic + olive oil + OJ concentrate + garlic + salt and pepper + rosemary.


The recipe says to do so for 1/2 - 1 hour. Is there a negative marinading for ~3-4 hours?



post #2 of 16


OJ concentrate? I've never heard of it, but it doesn't sound good to me! confused.gif


Anyway I would say marinate 1/2 hr max. Any more and the acid in the marinade will start denaturing the proteins in the fish (in fact starting to cook it). You also want to balance the taste of the marinade with the taste of the fish: if you marinate for too long then you'll only be able to taste the marinade, not the fish. 


post #3 of 16

sorry, but why on earth would you want to marinate salmon? brush your marinade on as a glaze after you turn it over....are you grilling it? i also think that the garlic and the rosemary are too strong for salmon...personally, and please don't take this the wrong way, i think your marinade sounds awful...balsamic and OJ...eew.....salmon doesn't need much and you want to taste the salmon, not the marinade...if you're grilling the fish i would lightly rub it with either oil or sesame oil, grill, turn over and brush with something simple... a you can just dilute mango preserves a bit), oj with tamari, thai sweet chili sauce...that sort of thing


food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #4 of 16

Quote...  "sorry, but why on earth would you want to marinate salmon?"


Because the OP's recipe said so.......

post #5 of 16

Once you use acidic ingredients in a fish marinade, you have to be aware that the acids start "cooking" the fish! Your fish will change color as if it were cooked on a fire. You use balsamic vinegar and OJ concentrate (never heard of that either); both are acidic ingredients.

This means you can marinate only briefly. I would also say maximum 30 minutes, preferably shorter, like 5 minutes or so.

post #6 of 16

The first two rules of good cooking are (1) Buy the best ingredients you can get; and (2) Don't screw them up.


Curious.  Where did you get the recipe?  Why do they hate you?


Chris and durangojo have -- between them -- hit the unhappy truth.  Within 20 minutes in that OJ/balsamic marinade, the surface of your salmon will be foul tasting ceviche; and the longer you go, the deeper the penetration.  If that's your goal, go for it.  If not, keep reading.


Strong acids like citrus juice and vinegars have the effect of "cooking" fish by altering the cell and molecular structures.  The proteins seize, the flesh firms up, the "raw" taste is overtaken and the fish tastes like something other than what it is.  This works extremely well with some kinds of fish, and far less well with others.  But it never works as a before-cook prep. 


Marination itself generally isn't a good idea with most fish.  The rule extends beyond the strongly acidic to enhancing as opposed to masking the fish's flavor.  As a rough rule, you want to avoid getting strong flavors inside the flesh.  Of course, there are plenty of exceptions to this rule of thumb.


You might conceivably want to try a salt/sugar brine with a restrained use of herbs (like dill), and all of the usual brining craziness, but that's about it.  You can even go long on the brining, sometimes I make gravlaks (a two or three day process, the way I do it) and grill it on the big 'q. 


Otherwise, for grilling or searing, you're best off restricting yourself to oil and rub just before the fish goes on, sprinkling citrus juice during the cook, and glazing as or just before the fish comes off.   


I smoke brined salmon with a maple and black pepper glaze; and the glaze goes on from the giddy-up.  But that's a very slow roast, quite different from a grill. 


You never talked about your eventual plans for cooking the salmon.  So?  How were you going to cook? 


Good salmon -- even farmed good salmon -- has become very expensive.  It's worth the extra money and the extra care to prepare it so that its true flavor shines through whatever the heck else you decide to do. 



Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/9/11 at 8:17am
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Needless to say not one of the comments from all of you was even slightly off the mark. The fish (baked) was awful. I had planned on grilling but it snowed all day yesterday. I took a couple of bites and tossed all in the trash.


Under the (apparently) mistaken belief that if I google 'recipe baked salmon' for example, the first several hits will be the most read and therefore a reasonable effort, I went for it. In this instance, the recipe was from Epicurious I believe and it now resides in the kitchen trash bin along with the salmon. Also, given my total lack of cooking knowledge, I was proceeding upon the mistaken assumption that practically 'any' recipe would be better than something I would do on my own. Plus, absent any basic understanding of cooking and relying upon what has been said here previously ('you've got to do to learn), I am slowly learning by experimenting--a lot of learning from last night.


The information on marinading was new and important. I should have initially been more circumspect. I love the taste and texture of salmon. Let alone the odd combination of ingredients, I would not choose salmon (and probably any fish that I would cook since I do not like fish with strong flavor) to marinade in the future.


I like coming here because you all know your stuff and don't hesitate calling a problem a problem and not an issue--if you get my drift.


For a variety of reasons I've recently dramatically minimized my meat to fish with the consequent increase in whole grains and vegetables. How about a book that isn't a bore and talks to the basics of cooking the preceding?



post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm going for round two tonight so a few pro-active questions.


1. Snow still on the ground and grill so the salmon goes in the oven. When doing so I just spray oil a foil covered baking pan. Is rubbing first with oil is just a grilling technique to reduce drying?


2. For light seasoning, any suggestions in addition to: light salt, ground pepper, fresh parsley and dill?


3. If baking, any compelling reason to or not to use a glaze (which I've never done)?


4. Why lemon during cooking versus after?



post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Sorry for the flurry of messages but this subject continues to evolve and all three are important.


The salmon I'm using is from Costco--Copper River, individually packaged, Alaskan wild sockeye.


They have one recipe suggestion on the package and it is a marinade: scallion, soy sauce, ginger, vinegar (they don't say what kind but I've seen reference to rice vinegar elsewhere?) and honey. Marinade 15 minutes then broil 4-6" from top.


Whether to use any sort of marinade with salmon is still an unsettled point. 'If' one were to do a marinade, does this one sound reasonable?



post #10 of 16


 if it were me, i would pan sear your salmon rather than bake it....i would use your soy(tamari is even better), ginger marinade to brush on the fish after you've turned it, but i would reduce the marinade big is your piece of fish? yes,you are right to think the vinegar is a rice vinegar...lastly,i always go with my gut reaction...sometimes recipes can just plain be wrong or bad or both...just cuz they're on the net doesn't mean squat......i live on the other side of the state from you in durango and it has been snowing here for 3 days off and on...last night i put another layer on, filled my up my wine glass to the brim, wiped off the grill and had at it...was worth every bite...hicup, hicup.....don't give up or give in...just keep at it....


oh, i use pickled ginger a lot in glazes and i use the juice instead of rice vinegar.....

food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #11 of 16

Ahh, those famous Costco chefs...  Didn't Michelin give them three retreads?


Why marinate at all?  You're not going to get much more penetration than you would by rolling it in a little of the liquid, or brushing it on immediately before cooking.  To my mind the vinegar is superfluous.  Some Chinese cooking wine, on the other hand, would be nice -- and so would a pinch of sugar. 


Since they're recommending broiling, presumably these are steaks -- either cross-cut or filleted.  If they're cross-cut, you might want to consider pin-wheeling them. 


If you want an Asian, broiler/grill thing, try brushing with white miso before cooking and let it go at that.  You could also brush with white miso for baked or roasted salmon.  White miso is salty/sweet.  You won't want to use any other salt, but a little pepper would not be amiss. 


Always cook salmon to mid-rare.  It should not be fully opaque inside, and unless you're poaching or baking, you should be able to see a translucent strip running right along the center.  You're going for an internal of around 120F;  125F is still okay, but pushing it. 



post #12 of 16

I agree with BDL why marinate..

Hi fat content fish do not seem to benefit from marinades. I believe the natural fat and oils in some fish actually repel the process unless you add a lot of lemon or vinegar which interferes with the natural flavor of the fish.

Sockeye is the greatest hoax put over the American Public. When I was in Alaska I learned from the natives they try to sell it outside of Alaska to get rid of it. They all try and catch and eat King Salmon(wild) which believe me is good and they consider their filet mignon of salmons.

    When I was there it was spawning season and you could stand in the streams and the salmon would jump into your arms it was amazing.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...


Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

post #13 of 16

I always panfry salmon and... I often marinate in a combination of a few tbsp of sunflower oil, lemonzeste very finely cut, black pepper, a few crushed sezchuan pepper corns aka lemon pepper (has also a Japanese variant called sancho pepper, delicious with fish)!

That's it. Just roll the fish in it and turn a few times while marinating. Or, make your life easy; you can put everything in a plastic bag (fish and this marinade) and leave it in the fridge overnight!

I have put strips of salmon fillet, marinated like this this, on skewers and roasted them over charcoal; talk about a waaaw dish that will amaze everyone!

But mostly I panfry the whole marinated fillets in a non-stick pan with minimal sunflower oil. Delicious!!


A few remarks however;

- do NOT salt the marinade!! It will extract the moist out of the fish.

- do NOT use the lemonjuice, it will cook the fish and change its structure. Use the zeste (yellow peel) without any white part. Zestes taste stronger than lemon juice but don't affect the fish structure! You can add a lot of other things to a marinade, but when you think "fish", your reflex should be "freshness", like in citrus, in lemonzestes.

- A little fresh herbs add to the freshness, like tarragon (best match with salmon!), lemon verbena, dille...perfect in this marinade. Absolutely NO lemon thyme (much too overpowering).


An extra tip regarding your first post. All Scandinavians present, please avert your eyes first; sweet ingredients and fish is disgusting imo. Balsamic vinegar has a sweet component, that made your dish uneatable! And, isn't your secret "OJ concentrate" sweet too? If yes, same fish-and-sweetness alert! But on the other hand, fresh orange or fresh orangejuice with salmon go well together, but not in a marinade...


Edited by ChrisBelgium - 10/10/11 at 5:35am
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

The second effort distinguished itself as being edible versus the initial attempt. I agree that the salmon does not need a marinade. I needed to learn this along with several other experiences and informational tidbits related through the thread.





post #15 of 16

Well that's great news! Thanks for reporting back - always cool to see a member's progress. So I take it you didn't marinate it - what did you do? How did you prepare it? Was it merely edible or better than that? Anything you think we could suggest to help get it even better? 

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

The second try was the less toxic marinade that I described and for only 15 minutes. Again, I did it more to see the taste difference between the two very different marinades than preferring to marinade. The taste was okay, certainly not worth the effort and not for salmon.


I like both of Joey's suggestions--the pan fry and grill. I'll be trying both.



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