The process of marinating meat can elevate its quality, flavor, and texture. However, there are a lot of conflicting opinions about marinating steak in soy sauce. How long should steak marinate in soy sauce? We have found that 30 minutes is a great starting point, 4 hours is ideal, and anything over 12 hours is just a waste of time.
The types of soy sauce marinades you should use, how to use them, and how long to marinate your steak in soy sauce are all important factors.
What Is The Purpose Of Marinating Meat?
A few simple steps can add a lot of benefits to your final dish by tenderizing, flavoring, and juiciing your meat. Marinating is a long-standing technique used to tenderize, flavor, and add juiciness to meat. There are usually two main ingredients in marinades: salty or acidic, which is the key to tenderizing the meat.
It is important to realize that when you marinate meat, the acid or salt helps break down tough protein fibers in the meat. Once these fibers are broken down, it allows the marinade’s flavors to be absorbed. This also allows the meat to be juicier as well.
The base ingredient can also be complemented with a bunch of other flavorful ingredients such as herbs, spices, chopped onions, or fresh garlic. There are some cuts of meat that require some form of tenderizing. If you do not tenderize them, you will not be able to enjoy them.
Why Soy Sauce?
Most people think soy sauce just adds saltiness, but it also helps to develop an umami flavor. Typically, umami is a savory, meaty flavor you get from grilled steaks, smoked meats, and cured sausage. The high sodium content of soy sauce will tenderize the meat very well. Just like an acid, it will break down the tough proteins, allowing the meat to absorb other flavors and juices.
Plus if you have any other ingredients in the marinade, you can definitely expect those to come through as well. Soy sauce can be used as a marinade for steak for a variety of reasons. It all depends on what flavors you like and what ingredients you have on hand.
How To Marinate Steak In Soy Sauce
We see both sides of most arguments when it comes to marinating meat. But, ultimately, we follow the rules that our professional chef friends have taught us. Here is our guide to marinating steaks in soy sauce properly and effectively.
Step 1: Make Your Marinade
Make the marinade first. The most important ingredient is soy sauce, and you will need a lot of it. You can also add garlic, honey, and olive oil to the marinade. If you’re looking for marinade ideas, check out Allrecipes on YouTube!
Step 2: Fork The Meat
It’s optional to fork the meat, but we highly recommend it. It involves poking holes in the meat. This will not only break down the tough protein fibers but will also allow the soy sauce to penetrate deeper into the meat.
Step 3: Coat The Meat In Marinade
Using a dishwasher-safe container (like this one) helps you have less scrubbing to do later. Then, cover the meat with soy sauce marinade. The marinade should cover the steak evenly on all sides, otherwise the steak will not tenderize evenly.
Step 4: Refrigerate The Marinating Steak
Put the steak in your fridge to marinate. Cover the marinade container with plastic wrap or saran wrap (or a lid if you have one), then store it away from fresh produce and raw ingredients.
Step 5: Allow The Steak To Marinate
We’ll cover the timing in the next section, but the longer you marinate the steak, the more flavorful it’ll be!
Step 6: Cook The Steak Properly
Regardless of how well you marinate your steak, an incorrect temperature or cooking time can ruin it.
This meat thermometer will help you determine the internal temperature of your steak, and there are tons of articles on the internet (and on our site) that can help you cook meat properly.
How Long Should You Marinate Steak In Soy Sauce?
There are many controversial topics surrounding marinating meat. And this particular question is one of the most controversial.
It’s best to marinate a steak in soy sauce for at least 30 minutes, but by then your steak will have just started to tenderize and will have absorbed hardly any flavors. If you are in a hurry, however, it’s better than not marinating at all.
As a result of the marinade’s saltiness, we find that steak is optimally tender, juicy, and super flavorful after 4 hours in a soy sauce marinade.
It is recommended that you marinate steaks for a minimum of 12 hours before cooking. After 12 hours, your meat has absorbed as much flavor as possible and is tender to the touch.
The amount of time you marinate meat is entirely up to you. Many grill masters have differing opinions on how long to marinate meat.
Tips For Marinating Steak In Soy Sauce
Simply whisk together the ingredients and do not apply any heat before cooking, so the flavors are better released by the ingredients and better absorbed by the meat. A marinade is uncooked, so it’s not a basting sauce.
The best way to ensure that the steak is tender is to place it in a large bowl of marinade, cover it with plastic wrap, and turn it halfway through the resting time.
Keeping your meat at room temperature for hours will only put you at risk of contracting food poisoning. Bacteria thrive in a temperature danger zone of 40-140oF (4-60oC).
You won’t be able to prevent bacteria from growing in a marinade if you leave it in an open environment.
You should cook your steak when it is completely dry, so that the marinade does not burn on the high heat. After your steak has marinated, drain it from the liquid and discard any excess soy sauce.
The marinade must first be cooked in a separate saucepan, before being applied to the steak.
Do you have to use just soy sauce or can other ingredients be added to the marinade?
As a marinade, we rarely use plain soy sauce. Instead, we use olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and maybe other ingredients. Besides spices, herbs, and aromatics, a marinade can also include barbeque sauce or other condiments. The steak won’t be cooked in the marinade, so you can use whole spices, such as crushed garlic and peppercorns.
Can you use low-sodium soy sauce for a marinade?
Low-sodium soy sauce can still be used for marinade recipes. Even though the salt level is lower, it is still sufficient for tenderizing meat. It is also generally healthier than regular soy sauce.
Which type of soy sauce is the best to use in marinades?
When marinating meat, we prefer “light” soy sauce. This isn’t the same as low-sodium soy sauce. This option is lighter in color than other soy sauces, so it won’t turn meat a dark color. Using whatever you think will give the best flavor is our personal preference because we like the appearance more.
What happens if you marinate meat in soy sauce for 2 days?
The meat is as tender as it is going to get after 12 hours – we have experimented with this. After that time, no more marinade will be absorbed by the meat.
Can you speed up the marinating process?
Vacuum sealing your meat in a bag with its marinade will speed up the process a lot. It is a technique we have used for many years. However, vacuum sealers can be expensive. This vacuum sealer is our recommendation if you’re in the market for one.