Old recipe, new batch. As luck would have it, we are going to the Dorothy’s house for dinner tonight. Dorothy is the dear friend behind this amazing marinade….
This is perhaps the easiest marinade ever. Even better, this recipe demonstrates how three basic ingredients can be the foundation for a multitude of meals that are doable enough for daily dinners yet entirely worthy of company.
After eating the most delicious grilled chicken at our friend Dorothy’s house years ago, I asked her what she put in her marinade that made the chicken taste so good. She replied: “It’s easy. Just remember ‘a third, a third, a third’.”
There was no need to write anything down. The recipe, which tasted like a complex combination of ingredients, was simply equal parts lemon juice, olive oil, and soy sauce.
Over the years, this marinade has proved to be as versatile as it is easy. I have used it countless times for vegetables, seafood, and pork as well as the chicken that initially wowed us. I have passed along Dorothy’s culinary masterpiece to many new fans who are consistently delighted by its flavor and amazed by its simplicity. Most recently, my father, who dare I say never mixed up a marinade before, started preparing this recipe.
Prior to a family dinner where we planned to serve “a third-a third-a third” salmon, my sister-in-law, Melissa, suggested a subtle sesame flavor might compliment the fish. Indeed, a small addition of sesame oil enhanced the Asian flavor, and this variation has become a regular in the rotation.
In the spirit of demonstrating how to stretch a three-ingredient staple into several memorable meals, I present the basic marinade recipe, noting the sesame option. Then, following the recipe are a few options that I implement regularly. If you happen to create your own spin-off recipe, I would love to hear about it!
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- Optional: 1 tablespoon sesame oil (I use this when grilling salmon or tuna)
- Mix all ingredients together and use as a marinade for chicken, salmon, tuna, pork and/or your favorite vegetables for grilling. You can make any quantity needed based on the amount of food to be grilled. (As noted above, roughly one-third cup of marinade per pound of meat or veggies is perfect when marinating in a zipper-top bag.) Simply follow the basic formula: equal parts of each ingredient, adding one tablespoon of sesame oil per cup of marinade if choosing the sesame variation.
- Prior to grilling, allow chicken or pork to marinate in the refrigerator for at least several hours and up to all day. Seafood and vegetables are best soaked for at least 20-30 minutes but not more than two hours. Occasionally flipping the bag will redistribute the liquid throughout the items being marinated.
- I have tried this recipe using lime juice instead of the lemon juice. Lemon juice is my preference, although lime could certainly be substituted if that is what you have on hand.
- Preparing a little extra marinade to steep onions, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, and/or mushrooms and grilling them alongside the meat is a simple way to create a complete meal.
- Marinate and grill whole portobello mushrooms. (Scrape out the gills with a spoon before placing in the marinade.) Top with sliced avocado, tomato, and slivered onion. Serve on a whole grain roll for a “meaty” veggie burger. I also make an Avocado Wasabi Sauce (click here for recipe) that tops off this hearty sandwich beautifully.
- Grill extra of your favorite vegetables and create a grilled “veggiewich” with your favorite pesto and cheese. Prepare as you would a grilled cheese or use a panini press. Grilling the zucchini, eggplant, etc., in thick strips instead of rounds makes them less likely to slip through the grill grates and creates perfect pieces for layering in a sandwich. (click here for recipe)
- My mother-in-law uses leftover marinated and grilled chicken to boost the flavor and make quick work of her standard chicken salad. She now makes a habit of grilling extra for this purpose.