How Do I Choose the Best Strip Steak Marinade?

Gregory Hanson

Choosing the best strip steak marinade requires a cook to strike a balance between their own particular taste preferences and the other dishes that they wish to serve with the marinated steak. Specific steak marinades are often based on national or regional cooking styles and range from Southern coffee and bourbon marinades to Asian teriyaki marinades. Each variety of marinade makes use of different flavors, and a certain amount of experimentation is necessary in order for a cook to choose favorite marinades. Cooks looking for the best strip steak marinade must also choose between homemade marinade and store-bought varieties.

A steak.
A steak.

Marinades add flavor to meat, but they also serve a more practical function. The acid and other chemical compounds in a marinade serve to break down and tenderize tough cuts of meat. Strip steak can be quite tough and is a prime candidate for marination. Not all marinade recipes and products include ingredients that will tenderize meat, but most traditional recipes include acidic fruit juices or other such substances. Cooks who plan to rely on a marinade for tenderization should make sure that the recipe they have chosen will serve this function.

Red wine is the base of many flavorful, tenderizing marinades for strip steak.
Red wine is the base of many flavorful, tenderizing marinades for strip steak.

Varieties of strip steak marinade typically reflect the flavor palate and cooking style of the regions where they were developed. American marinades often make use of traditional Western European spices and flavors for cooking beef. Red wine, garlic, onion, and thyme are all commonly used in this sort of marinade. Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, and coffee are less commonly encountered in this sort of marinade but are by no means uncommon. American marinades may include both savory and sweet components, and a certain amount of trial and error is needed to select favorite recipes.

Asian steak marinades, too, come in a wide variety of different flavors. Soy sauce commonly provides a salty base to Asian marinades, and many such preparations employ sweet fruit juices, such as pineapple juice, to inject another basic flavor into the preparation, and also to provide the acidity that allows the marinade to tenderize the meat. Five-spice powder, fish sauce, garlic, and a host of other flavors are also common in Asian marinades. Experimentation is necessary here, as well, for a cook to choose a personal favorite.

Store-bought strip steak marinade can be as high-quality as the homemade variety and requires a good deal less work. A well-stocked grocery store typically carries varieties of marinade from a variety of ethnic and regional cooking styles. Some cooks may prefer to prepare their own marinades from scratch, however, either to ensure that no additives and preservatives are used or to achieve a specific combination of flavors.

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