Why You Should Use This Fizzy Drink As a Steak Marinade

Or chicken or fish or even tofu.

July 26, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

Are you sick of kombucha yet?

I’m not, but that’s probably only because I didn’t really get into the stuff until about a year ago. In all honesty, I think kombucha is fine. Some brands are even pretty good, but when it comes to a midday drink, I’m typically A-OK with water or coffee.

While you won’t catch me paying $13 for a glass of the on-tap ‘booch at my local coffee shop, I am definitely interested in kombucha when it comes to other applications. Namely, using it as a base for a killer marinade.

Kombucha As a Marinade

As the mixture of tea, sugar, and SCOBY ferments into kombucha, glucuronic and gluconic acids are produced, which is why kombucha tastes sort of like sweet vinegar (or vinegar-based drinks like shrub and switchel.

Acid, as you may already know, is a great way to tenderize and flavor meat. Kombucha’s tang and fizz work wonders with any protein, from steak, chicken, and lamb to shrimp and fish, and even tofu. In the same way that some folks swear by marinating meat in sodas like Sprite or Coke, kombucha is my go-to marinade base when I’m looking to jazz up a cut of meat.

Since bottled kombucha comes in pretty large portions, when I plan to use it in a marinade I like to make a side that also involves the ‘booch.

To keep my ingredient list manageable, I tend to start with a base marinade (I like ginger-lemon kombucha with soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes), use most of it on my protein, then turn the rest into a vinaigrette for a crunchy vegetable like smashed cucumbers or sliced fennel. Sear the meat, toss the veg, maybe make a pot of rice if you’d like, and that’s all I need on a hot summer night.

Cocktail on the side is optional, but I should probably remind you that the rest of that bottle of kombucha also works great as a mixer.

Do you use kombucha for cooking, too? Let us know in the comments below.
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Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. These days, you can keep your eye out for her monthly budget recipe column, Nickel & Dine. Rebecca tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.

1 Comment

kim August 1, 2019
I love that your recipe includes tips for using the whole bottle. I hate waste. This sounds good; and since my whole summer has been about grilling gochujang pork shoulder steaks thanks to BA’s Carla Lalli Music, I think I’ll try this on the pork. Those boneless shoulder steaks are the bomb.