Marinades typically include an oil and acid, but the sky's the limit for creativity; add your own punctuation marks with spices, herbs and “secret” ingredients.
Love Meat Tender,
Love Meat Sweet
The acid in citrus juices, wines and vinegars go to work on proteins, tenderizing the meat while also balancing out spicy and sweet flavors in the marinade. But be careful: Marinating too long can actually toughen seafood and chicken.
Soak It Up
With marinating, less is sometimes more. While beef can handle 24 hours or more submerged in a marinade, seafood generally requires no longer than an hour and skinless chicken a couple hours. Too long, and acids can turn seafood and poultry mushy.
To reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, meat should always marinate in the refrigerator. And remember, if raw meat has soaked in the marinade, boil it for 5 minutes before using it to baste or enjoying it as a sauce.