Can You Marinate Salmon Overnight?

by Charlie
Seasoned salmon fillet

When cooking salmon, marinating it can massively improve the flavor, but you may want to marinate for longer periods of time.

Can you marinate salmon overnight? Yes, you can marinate salmon overnight but it is not recommended to marinate the fish longer than 24 hours. If you’re thinking of marinating salmon overnight to make meal prep easier, you can do so provided the sauce is not acid-based. However, even in a non-acid sauce, you should never marinate fish for more than 24 hours.

Why Do You Marinate Salmon?

Marinating is a proven way of making fish or meat taste particularly delicious, and ensuring that the flavor of the sauce has really soaked into the flesh. It involves giving the fish time to take on the different notes of a sauce.

Of course, marinating doesn’t just improve the flavor; it also makes fish soft and very juicy. That’s why marinades are commonly used for both fishes and meats. There is no better way to ensure that what you are serving to your guests is delicious, succulent, and rich.

How Do You Marinate Salmon?

You can marinate salmon in all kinds of sauces, and the longer you leave it for, the more of the flavor and juice the fish will absorb – up to a point, of course.

To marinate salmon, you’ll first want to make up the sauce. There are all kinds of marinades, so whatever you like – whether you’d go for tangy, sweet, creamy, spicy, fresh, or a mixture – you will find a sauce that is perfect.

Once the sauce has been concocted, you will want to tip it into a container or a plastic ziplock bag (that does not leak). You can then pat your salmon pieces dry on pieces of kitchen towel, and add them to the marinade, sealing the bag carefully.

You want to cover as much fish as possible in the sauce, so that it can fully absorb the flavor. Once you have got the fish in the marinade, transfer it to the refrigerator and leave it for the amount of time suggested in the recipe. This could be up to six hours, but might be as little as thirty minutes, depending on the sauce.

The longer you marinate the fish for, the more succulent and flavorful it will be, although you shouldn’t leave it for too long. Fish always needs to be marinated in the fridge, not at room temperature, so make sure you have enough space in advance and don’t leave fish out while you deal with the other parts of the meal.

Why Might You Marinate Salmon Overnight?

There are two big reasons to marinate salmon for long periods of time, such as overnight. The first is that doing so will ensure that the fish has really absorbed your delicious marinade and taken on all its flavors. The second is that it can make meal prep a lot easier.

Marinating salmon is the perfect way to get a delicious meal, but it can be a pain because you have to do it in advance. This is especially true if you’re marinating large pieces that need to sit for longer periods of time – not the ideal way to get a quick dinner made up. You have to think and plan ahead.

If you are just marinating the fish for half an hour, you can probably do this while preparing other vegetables. However, if you want to marinate it for an extended period of time, you need to start doing so around lunchtime.

For many people, that’s not practical or convenient, so you might be wondering if you can marinate salmon overnight, ready for dinner the next day.

If you’re having a fancy dinner, the more you can do in advance, the more likely your dinner is to go smoothly. You will also cut down on what you have to do at the last minute, which is certainly attractive. So, can you do it?

Can You Marinate Salmon Overnight?

The answer is that you can, in some circumstances. If, for example, you were to make the marinade just before going to bed at 23:00, and then take the marinated fish out of the fridge for supper at 17:00, it would be marinating for a total of eighteen hours – which should be okay if your sauce is not acidic.

You should aim to marinate for less than 24 hours in a non-acidic sauce, and less than six hours in an acidic sauce.

These are not hard and fast rules, but in general, you will find that these are the maximum times if you don’t want your fish to start reducing in quality. Making fish delicious is the whole point of doing this, so don’t push the time for too long.

What Happens If You Marinate Salmon For Too Long?

Leaving the fish in its sauce for too long will result in poorer texture. Long before the 24-hour mark, the fish will have absorbed as much flavor and moisture as it is going to, so increasing the time will not add any further advantages.

The proteins in the fish will also start breaking down, and you might notice that the fish becomes mushy and unpleasant. You may also find that if there is a lot of salt in the marinade, it actually makes the fish dry after a while, because it will be constantly drawing out the moisture.

An acidic sauce will start to affect the texture of the fish after a while, so avoid leaving it for too long for the same reasons as stated – it may become mushy, or tough and dry.

How long you leave it for will depend a bit on the kind of marinade. If your marinade recipe only recommends letting it sit for an hour, you will probably find that 24 hours is too long. If it suggests a full six hour soak, you will probably get away with it.

However, it’s always best to test the effects before you serve up your fish at a fancy dinner, and make notes if you notice the quality goes down as a result of marinating overnight!

Final Thoughts

Marinating your fish in advance may be tempting, but it should be done with care. Salmon is one of the tougher fishes, so it ought to hold up to longer marinating, but you don’t want to overdo it and ruin your meal. Use trial and error to determine the maximum time you can let your favorite marinades soak for.

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