A little oil, some tangy acid, and plenty of salty liquid and zesty aromatics make the best mix for infusing flavor into meat. Here's how to do it.
Credit: Photo: Victor Protasio

Marinade only goes so deep

The flavor won't penetrate much more than a small fraction of an inch into the meat no matter how long you marinate, so relatively brief soaks from one to eight hours are best.

Keep acids to a minimum

Vinegar and citrus juices lend zesty flavor, but they also break down proteins and can make the meat dry and tough. Stick to about 2 tablespoons per pound.

Use oil to distribute flavor

Add a little oil to the marinade to help oil soluble flavors from aromatics like garlic, onion, and herbs soak into the meat.

Salt for deeper flavor

Salt will penetrate meat more deeply than the rest of the flavorings in a marinade, brining as it soaks. Salt-rich ingredients like soy sauce and fish sauce work wonders, but a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt (per pound of meat) dissolved into a marinade will help as well.

Grilled Pork Adobo

Credit: Photo: Victor Protasio

We cook the marinade down so none of the flavors go to waste.