Can you marinate your steak in hot sauce only?
Yes, you can definitely soak your entire steak in hot sauce. Most mass-produced hot sauces consist of two main ingredients: vinegar, salt, and pepper (via Webstaurant). Aside from the obvious heat, there is always the presence of sour vinegar that hits the tongue, creating a painful and pleasurable sensation. Vinegar, which is incredibly acidic, acts as a preservative for the perishable ingredients in hot sauce, according to Doc Hotties. What makes hot sauce so good for steak is that its acidity will break down the fibers of the meat, according to MasterClass. Of course, there are other ways to tenderize steak, but acid seems to be the most effective method. Even adding crushed pineapple or lemon juice can tenderize your steak significantly, which is why hot pineapple sauce can make an exciting marinade.
Furthermore, hot sauce contains salt, which flavors the meat and makes it tender. Kitchen Savvy notes that the salt water solution triggers osmosis to bring salt and water to the muscle fibers. This removes the fibers that contract during cooking and draws moisture into the beef. A hot sauce marinade can be a spicy version of a salt water brine. The effectiveness of hot sauce requires some attention to timing and measurement. Add too much sauce to a thin steak, and it may fall apart on the grill, or a sharp vinegar seasoning may give it a less appealing flavor. Either way, hot sauces certainly enhance steaks, but they should be used with caution.