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Marie Porter returns to craft the kind of Canadian cookbook that could only be written by a Canadian living “away”...
Marie Porter returns to craft the kind of Canadian cookbook that could only be written by a Canadian living “away”...
Marie Porter returns to craft the kind of Canadian cookbook that could only be written by a Canadian living “away”...
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So I'm in the kitchen today, and came across an interesting crossroads, in terms of how to approach some of these recipes.

The recipe I'm working on right now is a very popular, commercially-available marinade back home.  Cheap and easy to come by in Canada, not sold anywhere else, but loaded with preservatives, etc. It was one of the top 3 commercially produced food products that expat Canadians told me they miss having access to.

Obviously, my recipe will not be including all of the preservatives, "industrial" type ingredients, etc.  The sticking point?  Corn starch.

The source material is thicker than homemade marinades are, both because of the corn syrup/water, and because it includes xanthan gum as well.  (I've decided to exclude xanthan gum, because it's expensive, no one who doesn't regularly cook gluten-free will have it, and it doesn't add enough to the recipe to justify the purchase).

If I include the corn starch and water, it'll not only add a couple ingredients, it will also add a step (simmering the two ingredients to thicken), and produce a product that is visually closer to the source material.

If I DON'T include corn starch, it will be a bit easier to make, not quite as thick, but taste the same as if I did include it.

The inclusion of water/corn starch in the "looks like the source material" recipe will require a different proportion of the remaining ingredients than if I don't include it, so it's not something I can just say "these ingredients/simmering is optional" to, so it really is a case of being one or the other.

For something like this, what do you guys think? Same look/viscosity as the source material, or a bit thinner, but easier?

Stanley Halstead likes this update.

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    1. William C Crawford on January 23, 2017

      I see you've already come up with a great solution, but I can't help (belated) answering the question: I don't think it makes a difference... In fact, it might be more important because I expect a marinade to stay in place, and I feel like a thicker one would do better?

      But in the end, you solved the dilemma, so the answer doesn't matter. :)

    2. Marie Porter 5-time creator on January 23, 2017

      The next update has info on what happened with this! :)

    3. Missing avatar

      Richard Sargent on January 23, 2017

      As a marinade, the thickness is less important than if it were a sauce. Keep it simpler and purer. (Says my wife who knows this stuff. I just enjoy it.)

    4. Melody Scott Smith on January 22, 2017

      I say "thinner, but easier". I don't want cornstarch, if I can avoid it.

    5. Ben Chalker on January 22, 2017

      Perhaps add it as an optional step.
      Is it's inclusion going to affect subsequent steps?

    6. Missing avatar

      Janet on January 22, 2017

      Corn starch is very temperamental. It changes with temperature. If the marinade is put into a bottle, you may not be able to pour it out after only a few hours. Does this marinade need time for the flavours to meld? You may find the consistency that you are looking for with tapioca starch.

    7. Missing avatar

      elizabeth mccloy
      Superbacker
      on January 22, 2017

      As long as it doesn't change the taste, go with easier. When I'm cooking, I like to avoid steps that just dirty another dish, and add more time, as long as the flavor is what I want.

    8. Missing avatar

      Jennifer on January 22, 2017

      If it were me. I would add a note to the recipe. Allow people to make the choice while cooking themselves.

    9. Missing avatar

      Anita Phagan on January 22, 2017

      Could you write as Alternative #1 and Alternative #2? I would also include xanthum gum because I DO have it in my baking supplies, since I prepare a gluten free flour mixture for cookies.

    10. Missing avatar

      Karen Heffernan on January 21, 2017

      marinades aren't generally thick, I'd go with thinner and easier

    11. Missing avatar

      Ken Lobaugh on January 21, 2017

      Isn't the point of the cookbook to best replicate items that ex-pats can't get away from home? If that's the case, I think you should thicken it to make it more like the item Canadians are used to.

    12. Marie Porter 5-time creator on January 21, 2017

      Joshua: Leaving it out would mean a whole separate recipe, because taking out the water/corn starch would require different proportions on everything else.

    13. Joshua Long
      Superbacker
      on January 21, 2017

      Kind of depends on what it's going on. Also just slightly reducing any water used would make it thicker anyway. I say easy, but if possible include as optional with ingredients for thicker in parentheses. So to appease all parties.

    14. Marie Porter 5-time creator on January 21, 2017

      William: This is a marinade though, not a sauce. Does that change things for you?

    15. William C Crawford on January 21, 2017

      I definitely prefer thicker sauces. So that, along with being more like the real thing, has me voting for the more complicated recipe.