Made To Marinade

Best Health is the name and marinade is the game. This week's class was great because I got a phone call from the manager at Best Health informing me that a local television station was coming by to film portions of my class and interview me.

[insert high-pitch squealing, laughter, jumping, and shouting here]

I was beside myself with disbelief, joy, and sheer excitement. My good friend, Ellen, was with me when I got the call and she didn't understand why my mouth was agape and it took me a moment to answer her when she asked, "Are you alright? What happened?"

I told her and she said, "That's how Rachael Ray got started."


After a whirlwind trip to the grocery to get my ingredients for the class, frenzied call to my hairdresser, and emergency meeting with my mom to pick out my on-camera outfit, I came to the realization that I shouldn't be nervous or do anything any different than before. Someone chose me to be the face of Best Health for a reason. I needed to present my best self, but still be MYself.

The content that was recorded is to be uploaded to the local news channel's health portion of the Website. Some time early next week it should be up and running. Don't worry, friends, I'll DEFINITELY provide the link.

The following recipes are for the marinades/rubs only. They are all interchangeable between chicken, beef, pork, or tofu. In parenthesis, is the preferred protein or each recipe. But as I like to say, recipes are guidelines, not set in stone. Change the ratios to your liking. Change up the seasoning. That is what makes cooking fun.

Tips for marinades and rubs:
*A good marinade has an acid, seasonings or herbs, and oil.

*The acid changes the texture of the protein so that it takes the seasonings more readily.

*The seasonings and herbs flavor the protein. Salt is the most important seasoning that you can have. I believe it is the 5th season (hahahahaha)

*Oil lubricates, makes it easier to distribute the seasonings during marination, and prevents the protein from sticking while cooking.

*Contrary to popular belief, do NOT poke holes in your protein. The holes only promote leakage during cooking AND resting. You'll be left with a tough, dry piece of steak in the end.

*Refrigerating your marinating piece of chicken or beef is a good thing, but it doesn't help the marinade "set in." Refrigeration is for retarding bacterial growth. When it's time to cook your food, bring it to room temperature (for the same reasons your ingredients should be at room temperature when you bake)

*Marinating in a plastic bag is ideal. Remove as much air as possible before closing the bag. The lack of oxygen helps the marinade "set in." Basically, science tells us that the molecules have no place to go except inside the meat and it helps flavor it. If you have a Seal N Save or similar device, use it. If you don't have one and you enjoy marinating food, invest in one. Not only is your meal sealed, you can cook your sealed food directly in the bag. Just like Hung on Top Chef.

Herb Balsamic Marinade (chicken)

2 Tbsp each fresh green herbs, minced (parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, mint, chervil, dill)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup full-bodied red wine
1 tsp yellow mustard
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper

Coffee Chocolate Rub (for steak)

2 Tbsp ancho chili powder
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tsp brown sugar or Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
¼ cup freshly ground coffee, course grind
1 Tbsp salt

No, it's not a piece of bark. It's rubbed down flank steak.


Ponzu (for fish and shrimp)

½ cup Kikkoman low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup Rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled, chopped
¼ cup scallions, sliced thin
2 tsp Red pepper flakes

Bowl of ponzu. Can also be used for dipping and pouring over sashimi.

Sorry, Charlie...

Yes, people do eat my food. And enjoy it, too. I believe the young lady on the left is dancing.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

Leave a reply

  1. More good news today! Congrats. This is really something.

  2. Congrats Nik!!!! Hopefully your cooking will take you to wealth and fame.

    Great tips in this post, btw. I am sure that I do all those things when I marinate, but now I know why. :-)

  3. Congrats to you. If you get a show of your own, I'm sure it will be a gazillion times better than Rachael Ray's.

    And thanks for all the tips.

  4. Rachel: LOL Thanks! I bet my show would be better than Rachael Ray's, too. I'm just as cute as her...

  5. Well check you out. You're right, that's how Rachel Ray got started. Boy, I hope this really works out for you. And so um, you watch Top Chef too? We'd soooo get along well. How come you couldn't be a man? LOL - But for real, you watch the Food Network and Top Chef - do you know we're probably siblings from another life time, we must be!

  6. Darius: I hope something works out. I dream about it every night. I have some kind of tv/food dream every single night. No exaggeration. I'm obsessed.
    Yes, sir, Top Chef and many shows on the Food Network are on my TiVo Season Pass. Maybe we're some other kind of kindred spirits?


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