The Best Fish Marinades


Marinades quickly and easily add flavor to any fish. The right ingredients also tenderize fish. Marinades work on the surface of the fish by breaking down protein. The protein in the fish loosens and becomes tender when exposed to the marinade. This process also helps to modify the structure of the fish proteins, opening up tunnels in the fish for the flavor to soak in.


  • There are three types of marinades: acid, enzyme and dairy. Acidic marinades contain citrus juice, wine or vinegar. Enzymes in pineapple or papaya break down connective tissue, acting as a tenderizer, but work so well that the fish quickly turns to mush. Pineapple and papaya are not recommended for fish marinades, but are sometimes used for meat. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt or buttermilk tenderize and add flavor. The calcium in dairy products works with the natural enzymes in the fish to break down protein.

Marinated Grilled Salmon

  • Mix 1/4 cup honey, 3 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. five-spice powder, and 1 clove of finely-chopped garlic. Pour over 1 lb. of salmon fillets. Marinate for 15 minutes. Broil or grill for 6 to 8 minutes.

Baked Tilapia

  • Whisk together 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sesame oil, 1 tsp. white sugar, 1 tsp. minced garlic, and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger. Add 1 1/2 lbs. tilapia fillets, turning to coat evenly. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until fish flakes easily.

Homemade Fish Sticks

  • Make homemade fish sticks by cutting 1 lb. of firm white fish fillets into strips. Soak the strips in buttermilk seasoned with 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper for 10 minutes. While the fish soaks, season 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Dredge the fish strips in the flour mixture, then fry in 1/8-inch vegetable oil for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.

Shrimp Salad

  • Buy 1 1/2 lbs. of cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined. Mix the shrimp with 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup white vinegar, 1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, 3 tsp. celery seed, 1 tsp. sea salt and 1 large red onion, finely chopped. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.

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