Recipe: Sweet, Salty, and Sour Marinade

As a follow up to my posting on Marinades, I thought I would share the below marinade recipe sourced from Bon Appetite.  It uses some rarer ingredients so this may not work for all families.  I also included the “formula to a good marinade” below.



Sweet, Salty, and Sour Marinade

Makes about 1 cup, enough to marinate 2 lb. of pork (tenderloin or chops) or fish (oily or white-fleshed; shrimp or scallops)


  • 3 oz. palm sugar, chopped, or 6.5 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro [I use chopped cilantro cubes in the freezer section at Trader Joes)
  • 2 TBsp. chopped peeled fresh ginger [You can use jarred Ginger, or I use ginger powder these days too)
  • 4 red Thai chiles or 6 Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. minced lemongrass (from peeled bottom 4″ of 2 large stalks)
Ingredient information:  palm sugar is available at Indian and Asian markets.  Fish sauce is sold at Asian markets and better supermarkets.


  • Stir palm sugar and 3 Tbsp. water in a small sauce pan over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.
  • Combine lime juice, fish sauce, and 3 Tbsp. water in a medium bowl.  Whisk in 1/3 cup palm sugar syrup (reserve remaining syrup for glaze).
  • Stir in cilantro, ginger, chiles, and lemongrass.
  • Put pork or seafood in a glass, stainless-steel, or ceramic dish.  Toss with marinade.
  • Cover and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Remove pork or seafood from marinade, pat dry, and grill.
The finish:
Simmer marinade and reserved palm sugar syrup n a small saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup.  Brush glaze onto meat or fish during the last few minutes of grilling.

source:  Bon Appetite, July 2011


“Marinade Math”

+ Acid (citrus juice, vinegar, or wine tenderizes and focuses the flavors)

+ Salt (Kosher salt – or soy or fish sauce – allows seasonings to penetrate)

+ Alliums (garlic, shallots, or onions are a must for a muscular marinade)

+ Sugars and & Syrups (Used judiciously, sweetness balances all the flavors)

+ Chiles (where there’s smoke there should be fire)

+ Herbs (fresh, summery herbs – like cilantro, oregano, and basil – work better than dried)

source:  Bon Appetite, July 2011

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