TENDERISING and adding flavour makes for a good double advantage in a sauce. When barbecuing, marinading is used to keep food moist and will ensure maximum tenderness and introduce interesting flavours.
Marinades need to permeate the fibre of meat, fish or vegetables to effectively tenderise it, so they need to have an acidic element such as lemon juice, wine vinegar, olive oil, or yoghurt. Spices, herbs and salt can be added too.
Oil can slow down the absorption of flavouring into meat, which is made mostly of water, but it does help to keep a thin cut of meat from drying out. Don’t expect meat to fully absorb a marinade no matter how long it is left. In fact, when frying a steak quickly on a pan, marinading can give it a boiled texture, so I just sprinkle with salt for flavour and cook on maximum heat.
Use oil when marinating for a barbecue. Most of the samples we tested had plenty of acids and sometimes tomatoes to provide added acid and substance.
I use a simple blend of two tablespoons of olive oil, ideally soaked with a few cloves of garlic for an hour before discarding, with two dessertspoons of lemon juice, and salt for grilling lamb chops, thick cod fillets, aubergines and other vegetables. Yoghurt, flavoured with finely grated garlic, salt, and olive oil makes a great marinade. It’s also an excellent sauce for vegetables.