You Should Be Marinating And Brining Meats + Why You Need to Do It

Meat makes up the majority of the food we cook. We already know how to season and cook our food to make it taste good but there might be two prepping tricks that you may not think you're doing on a daily basis but you actually are. 

Here's an example: when preparing a bistek Tagalog recipe or a beef tapa recipe, you may think you're just seasoning your meat so it's more flavorful when you cook it. What you're actually doing is marinating your meat.

Another example is if you season your fried chicken pieces with salt and ground black pepper and leave it overnight in the refrigerator, yes, you're seasoning your meat but what you're actually doing is brining your meat. (This is actually the dry brine method.)  

Here are a few things you should know about marinating and brining so you can be an even better cook: 

Photo by At Maculangan | Prop Styling by Liezl Yap and Rachelle Santos

1 Marinating is like brining.   

Everything you need to know about marinating meats is basic knowledge for an experienced cook. However, for those who are not as experienced or are not experienced yet, what you really need to know about marinating meats is that you need to make an overly flavorful liquid concoction before adding your meats. 

Marinating is like brining in the sense that you are submerging the meat in a liquid and then leaving it to soak in the liquid. Whether it's just for a few hours or overnight and whether the liquid is a watery concoction that is little more than saltwater or is a thick, viscous sauce that will do little more than coat the outside of the meat, the concept is the same. 

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What's different between these two methods is the purpose


2 Marinating is all about the flavor. Brining is all about the moisture. 

Everything you need to know about brining meats meanwhile is almost the same concept behind marinating meats, with a few differences. The differences between a marinade and a brine solution are these: Marinades are made to be intensely flavorful so it can flavor the meat. Brine solutions can also be highly flavorful but it's not meant to be a flavoring.

Brining may introduce a little bit of flavor into the water that it's in which will minimally flavor the meat. Instead, brining is about keeping your meat moist as it cooks (for hours if needed!) so it doesn't end up to be so dried up that's impossible to eat. 

Making a marinade for meat is mixing flavorful ingredients together and using that to coat the meat you want to make more flavorful. A marinade is not meant to penetrate further than a few millimeters into the meat. In fact, marinating meat so that it will be flavorful all the way through is a grilling myth that has been debunked and busted. Instead, marination is really about introducing new flavors to meat so that when you do cook it, its flavors meld and combine with the meat to create something totally scrumptious and aromatically appetizing. 

Brining takes more time than it does to marinate meat.  
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3 Brining takes more time than marinating. 

Since brining meat, whether it's a whole chicken or a pork chop, is all about letting the meat soak and absorb water into the meat, you will need more time than is needed if you were merely marinating meats. That's because this absorption of water into the meat needs time to become saturated with water and then letting the brine solution replace the water.


Not only that, you will be tenderizing the meat as well as you do this, just like if you were marinating meat in an acidic marinade. The acidity of a marinade is what can speed up the process of tenderizing your meat which a normal brine solution doesn't have. Instead, you can think of brining as the slow and steady way of tenderizing meat while marinating with an acidic marinade is the fast way of doing it. 


However, there is a word of caution when you're brining meat: brining meat can mean losing much of the flavor of your meat to the water solution it's soaking in. To combat this, use a sauce or gravy to reintroduce flavor to your brined meats or use a very flavorful brine.  

With that said, are you ready to brine and marinate meats like a pro? 


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