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Eat this! Marinades enhance the flavor

Chicago Cut's spicy marinated shrimp.

Chicago Cut's spicy marinated shrimp.

What it is: A marinade is a seasoned liquid used to flavor and enhance the texture of meat, fish and vegetables before cooking. Most marinades contain acidic ingredients that help break down tough fibers in meats; they also add moisture. Studies have also shown that marinades may reduce the levels of carcinogens in grilled meats.

Where it comes from: The term “marinate” derives from the Latin mare, meaning “the sea.” The practice, however, likely dates to prehistoric times across the globe. Before refrigeration, marinades preserved meats (and disguised off flavors).

What to do with it: Marinades are especially useful for foods subjected to the high heat of grilling. Labor Day may have come and gone, but there are still weeks of good cookout weather in store.

Chef Jackie Shen of Chicago Cut Steakhouse in River North uses a spicy marinade for shrimp; the recipe works for vegetables as well. She notes: If a marinade is used for fish, poultry or vegetables, be sure to pat dry the items so they are not burned by the heating of the excess liquid. Let the items sit on the grill for at least one minute before flipping so as not to tear them.

Chicago Cut’s spicy marinated shrimp
Chef Jackie Shen

3/4 tablespoon chopped garlic
3/4 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3/4 tablespoon minced green chilies
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons ketchup (fresh, for best results)
About 16 pieces of shrimp (16/20 size)

Combine all ingredients and marinate the shrimp for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat the grill and cook for 1 minute on each side; after both sides are grilled, close the grill for one minute. Shrimp is ready when firm to the touch. 2 servings.

 
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