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Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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August 15, 2008 2:41 PM

Use your imagination for marination

Posted by Nancy Leson

Eater Joel Marcus makes a mean marinade -- or so he tells me. He shared his ingredients for making a "secret sauce" for soaking everything from shrimp (ginger and orange juice), to flank steak (apple butter), to beef brisket (Pepsi!) to chicken (brined with salt, sugar and turmeric). And I'm sure he'd agree that the real secret to a great marinade -- and the answer to a quick and easy dinner on a hot day like this one -- is keeping a well-stocked cupboard. I just opened mine. . .

. . .and grabbed a handful of Asian condiments and some cheap sake I keep for cooking purposes (the good stuff's in the fridge, along with an icy martini glass, for later):

Then I poured them out, willy-nilly, into a Pyrex baking dish, using my eye as a measure. Next, I mixed up the marinade and coated some cross-cut short ribs (they sell nice, relatively inexpensive ones at QFC where I bought the beef in the photo below, but I often find them thinner and cheaper at markets like 99 Ranch, Viet Wah or Pal-Do World):

The whole process took about five minutes, tops. As I write, they're in the refrigerator. In a few hours I'll grill the meat, toss the marinade, throw some corn on to boil, make a salad and pour myself a nice cold sake to celebrate the sun -- and the end of the work week. Couldn't be easier.

So, Joel wanted me to ask: what's your recipe for an easy marinade?

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Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

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