Unusual marinade recipes wanted
June 14, 2015 7:43 PM   Subscribe

What are the most unusual but tasty marinade recipes you love?

I read a recipe the other day that called for marinating chicken in maple syrup and ketchup. with grilling season finally here, I want to make this the summer of the weird marinade. Please send me anything and everything you've tried that's strange but very tasty. Sauce and dry rub recipes are also very welcome.
posted by reenum to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
posted by vunder at 7:57 PM on June 14, 2015

I don't know how unusual it is, but equal parts maple syrup, orange juice and soy sauce is good with salmon.

Also I made a dry rub once with paprika, oregano, thyme, garlic powder and fenugreek that's good on steak.

Oh, and I just tried making Arab 7-spice powder the other day, killer on chicken. I think I'm going to try it on roast pork next.
posted by maggiepolitt at 8:16 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't have it in front of me, but Yotam Ottalenghi, eponymous cookbook has a marinade for chicken that includes sumac powder, lemon, garlic, and zaatar. I made it for Passover, and my kids ask for it regularly now.
posted by SobaFett at 8:55 PM on June 14, 2015

Plum sauce, fresh ground plums, garlic cooked in oil, ginger, soy sauce and half apple cider vinegar, this is good on chicken, kebabs, and steak.
posted by Oyéah at 9:20 PM on June 14, 2015

Southern style bbq chicken, marinated in vinegar, onions, sage with some salt. Soak the.chicken for at least an hour, or overnight. Not too much sage, just enough to impart, rather tham overwhelm.
posted by Oyéah at 9:23 PM on June 14, 2015

Sweet soy sauce (ketjap), chili paste (sambal), ginger, garlic, for a basic Indonesian-inspired flavor.
posted by monospace at 9:35 PM on June 14, 2015

I'm not sure these are unusual ideas, but two of my go-tos:

Usually on fish: garlic, ginger, mirin, soy sauce, onion of some sort, fish sauce, citrus slices.

On chicken or beef: basically a margarita: lime, tequila, maybe some hot peppers.

You really can go crazy with the marinade idea. The elements are generally an acid (lime, vinegar, coca cola!, etc.) and accompanying flavors, such as sweet, herbaceous or umami.

So acid+sweet heads to barbeque, acid+herbaceous is Greek/Indian/middle east, acid+umami is Japanese/Chinese. Very broadly. Very.

In the department of very crazy, you could try lime+fennel, or vinegar+mint, or Coca Cola+honey and mint. If you want to do something insane maybe ouzo and sugar and fennel? Or tequila, soy, and ramps? Or go trashy with Hidden Valley Ranch, jalapeños, and Sunny D?

There's also heat to play with. Very hot peppers make an uncontrollable marinade.
posted by littlewater at 9:38 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Soba, is this it?

I had no idea you could make shawarma at home. Ever since this recipe appeared in the NYT earlier this year, I have made and enjoyed it many times.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:04 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think (? I just read about it, haven't tried it yet) that this is more of a after-grill bath/table sauce than a traditional marinade. But in what sounds like the spirit of your question, you might enjoy trying Alabama-style white barbeque sauce.
posted by spelunkingplato at 10:05 PM on June 14, 2015

The secret to Chick-Fil-A without the hate is marinating the chicken in pickle juice.
posted by cmoj at 11:33 PM on June 14, 2015

If you want a marinade that tenderises meat, then you can grate in either a nashi pear or a kiwi fruit, and marinate the meat in that. Neither fruit has a strong taste and will lend a little sweetness to your meat. With the nashi, if you don't want fruit bits, then grate into a little cheesecloth and squeeze the juice out - works just as well.
posted by ninazer0 at 11:43 PM on June 14, 2015

Any recipe that calls for a bit of Coke in the marinade, substitute Moxie instead for a richer, tastier flavor. Works especially great with grill & BBQ recipes.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:22 AM on June 15, 2015

Whenever I order chicken wings at Dominos, I always get the mango habanero dip instead of the blue cheese dip (I have a bottle of blue cheese dressing at home). I save the mango habanero dip and marinate 2 chicken breasts in it in a zip lock back overnight. Then bake at 400F until they are fully cooked (I don't remember how long - 30-40 mins, depending on chicken breast size? Use a meat thermometer). This makes a delicious, tender, slightly spicy, slightly sweet chicken breast every time.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 7:07 AM on June 15, 2015

This is for shrimp but I used it on tofu and it was good and I don't know why it wouldn't be good with chicken too. (Note: I really know nothing about cooking chicken, but Google indicates using coconut milk with chicken is a thing too.)
posted by darksong at 7:15 AM on June 15, 2015

R-r-r-root beer.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:45 AM on June 15, 2015

Cornell BBQ Chicken (State Fair Chicken).
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:25 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Spiedies are a mainstay sandwich of Binghamton, N.Y., and its surrounding boroughs. They’re made of meat marinated for a long time in what amounts to Italian dressing, then threaded onto skewers, grilled, and slid into a cheap sub roll, sometimes with a drizzle of fresh marinade or hot sauce. The recipe that follows calls for beef, but pork or venison can be used almost interchangeably. Marinate for a long time: a full 24 to 36 hours is not uncommon, and results in chunks of meat that are so deeply flavored that they taste great even when slightly overcooked. (If you use chicken, however, reduce the length of time in the marinade, since the meat starts to break down after 12 hours or so.) Serve the spiedies with an additional drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil, on top of Italian bread or alongside rice.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:29 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you played with Sichuaun peppercorns yet? They are not actually pepper but a dried flower (I think) used for SPICY Chinese cooking. You toast the little flower for a minute on the stove in a pan, then grind it in a mortar&pestle or other grinder. Use it as a rub or within another Asian-inspired marinade. It's a really unusual type of spiciness that makes your mouth tingle (for real!) Use with caution at first because it can be pretty intense. Since this spice has subtle orange notes I would recommend using it with an orange juice type of marinade or sauce.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 9:42 AM on June 15, 2015

A couple people have covered marinating chicken in yogurt, but I'm specifically intrigued by this Turkish recipe, which uses copious amounts of aleppo pepper and smoked paprika along with slices of unpeeled lemons to flavor the marinade.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:44 AM on June 15, 2015

Throw a couple of tablespoons of lapsang souchong with some liquid in a bag with meat!
posted by gregr at 9:58 AM on June 15, 2015

I've only ever tried this on tofu, but it's amazingly good for being so simple: equal parts soy sauce (cheap whatever is fine) and apple cider vinegar. Add smoked paprika/liquid smoke to taste and some garlic if you want to get fancy.
posted by snaw at 10:22 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you regularly order takeaway at American-style Chinese restaurants then you'll get little packets of soy sauce, duck/plum sauce, and mustard. Save them in the fridge and with a little bit of lemon juice you can mix them all together to create a sweet marinade for pork or chicken.

This surprisingly tasty combination brought to you by Not Wanting To Go To The Damn Store Again
posted by The Whelk at 12:55 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

buttermilk + [spices] + [herbs] + 24 hours

The lactic acid penetrates and tenderizes the protein, and will bring other flavours along with it. Basically the same action as with yogourt. For the most part, any other marinades (except those based around pineapples/mango/kiwi, due to the presence of enzymes that break down proteins) are going to do basically nothing to your meat other than provide surface flavour/goop. Can't remember which episode, Heston Blumenthal actually marinaded chicken in various things and used an MRI to check penetration depth.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:51 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

My Marinade Level Up Juice is Angostura bitters, added into a bunch of soy sauce, citrus, and mirin. It just adds a nice depth of flavor to whatever else you've got going on (especially if what you've got going on is tofu or a similar flavor-sponge).
posted by torridly at 12:30 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Kimchi juice and soju or vodka, perhaps with a grated Asian pear or daikon radish.
posted by WasabiFlux at 9:02 PM on June 16, 2015

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