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Kobe beef and marinades. The combination almost seems a sin to even mention, let alone actually to do. For the best cuts of beef, like tenderloin or top sirloin, marinating can actually ruin the meat. For tougher cuts like chuck, round, and flank, marinating adds flavor and tenderness.
There are a few basic rules to marinating:
- Use around ½ cup of marinade per pound of beef
- Marinade for 6-8 hours but never longer than 24 hours
- Refrigerate while marinating, never at room temperature
- For basting, put some marinade off to the side before adding the meat
- Pat the beef dry before grilling (dry meat browns more quickly and easily)
For the tender cuts like tenderloin, you can do a quick marinade to add flavor of 15 to 45 minutes but never more.
There are two basic categories of marinade:
- Acid: Some sort of acidic base from vinegar, wine, citrus, or even tomatoes forms this base for this marinade. The acid denatures the protein in meat, which means that the protein begins to break down. Other spices, herbs, and flavorings are often added to acidic marinades.
- Enzymatic: Fruit, that’s the base of this type of enzymatic marinades. The enzymes in the fruit break down the muscle but so quickly and so thoroughly that these marinades need to be used sparingly, possibly as rubs or quick 15 minutes pre-grilling additions.
- Dairy: Think Indian cooking. The slightly acidic and enzymatic yogurt tenderizes the meat like traditional acidic marinades so the meat can sit for longer, possibly overnight. The tanginess of the yogurt also adds flavor. Many traditions add a rub of some sort for dairy marinated beef before grilling.
Having said all of this about marinating in general, remember to keep it simple with Kobe beef steaks. Keep the highly-prized cuts of Kobe beef steak like tenderloin simple with salt and pepper, but with Kobe beef cuts like flank steak, experiment with marinades.
What marinades worked well for you? Did you have any horror stories about marinades going wrong? What suggestions do you have for Kobe beef lovers who have never marinated before?