Will You Be Brine?
29 JAN 2021
Chef Tricks – Brining
As we all navigate through the middle of another lockdown, the kitchens in our homes take centre stage once again. Everyone is getting creative in the kitchen and trying recipes and ingredients that once were found a little daunting. We could buy the best ingredients from all over the world but if the cooking and preparation technique is incorrect, the result will not be what we had hoped for at the beginning.
One technique that can really elevate a dish and especially the protein portion is brining. Brining is simply a technique in which something is soaked in a saltwater solution as a form of a marinade. Meat can be soaked for as little as 30 minutes to anywhere up to 2 days. Brining adds flavour as it seasons from the inside out, and the salt disrupts the molecular pattern and allows the cells to retain more moisture.
Have some fun when trying out brines with herbs, spices and aromatics. A quick brine can also firm up usually flakey fish like haddock or cod. Below is an example of a Chinese brine to spice up chicken, pork or duck proteins.
3 litres Water / 200g brown sugar / 210g kosher salt / 100ml soy sauce / 2 dried chilis / 2 teaspoons peppercorns / 5 star anise / 3 cloves garlic / 3 slices ginger
Toast the dried chilis, peppercorns and star anise in a pan for 30 seconds to release the oils and are fragrant. Add 1 litre of the water to the pan with the rest of ingredients, bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar and then add the remaining 2 litres of water. Make sure brine is cool before adding the protein. Allow desired protein to soak for 6 hours before cooking.
Mark Stone, Executive Chef