Learn how to prepare beef for stir fry, to create restaurant-like tender beef recipes, just like your favorite restaurant!
Stir-frying is a quick and flavorful way to cook beef, but it’s important to choose the right cut of meat and prepare it correctly in order to achieve the best results. These easy-to-follow instructions include tips for selecting the right cut of beef, the best way to slice it, and the restaurant secret to tenderizing it.
One of my favorite restaurants in Sydney has the most tender, and succulent pieces of beef stir fry tossed with broccoli and a simple stir-fry sauce. It was only after joining the culinary school, that I realized that a good stir fry starts even before you heat your wok. The right cuts of meat and the steps to marinate and tenderize them were as important as the actual stir fry recipe.
This guide is an attempt to take you through the steps to achieve tender beef for stir frying including the best way to slice it, tenderize it, and velveting.
Why Should I Tenderize And Velvet the Beef?
One of the most important things to look out for in stir fries is how tender and succulent the meat is. It makes all the difference in how your recipe tastes. Tough-to-chew beef pieces make for an unpleasant eating experience, even if you have the best sauce ever.
When you tenderize and velvet the beef, it makes a whole world of difference to your beef stir fry – it’s a restaurant secret, and the simple extra 2 steps are really worth it!
What Cuts Of Beef Are The Best For Stir Fries?
Stir-frying is a quick cooking method that involves cooking the beef at high heat for a short period of time. So, if the beef is tough or has a lot of connective tissue, it will not become tender when cooked this way.
Tougher cuts are more suitable for low and slow cooking methods, such as braising or slow roasting like in your instant pot, oven, or slow cooker. This is why cuts like shanks, rounds, shoulders, brisket and chuck are unsuitable for stir-frying.
When selecting beef for stir-frying, it’s best to choose cuts that are tender and have a good balance of flavor and fat. This is half the battle won! Some of the most common beef cuts that are suitable for stir-frying are rump, sirloin, flank, and skirt.
When selecting beef for stir-frying, look for cuts that are well-marbled, as this will help keep the meat moist and tender during cooking. Remember, fat equals flavor and tenderness.
A Note: Expensive marbled steak cuts like wagyu, Kobe sirloin, tenderloin, rib eye, etc, do not need treatment as they are tender, and ready to be stir-fried. Tenderizing is recommended for cheaper and more economical cuts of beef as mentioned above.
Steps For Slicing Beef For Stir Frying
- Start with a well-chilled piece of meat. This will make it easier to slice thinly.
- Trim any excess fat or gristle: Gristle is the connective tissue. When not broken down (like in slow cooking) it has an unpleasant mouthfeel and needs to be discarded. Your stir-fried beef dish will feel chewy and inedible.
- Cut against the grain. Beef fibers run in a specific direction, and cutting against the grain, will make your slices tender.
- Use a sharp knife. A dull knife will crush the fibers in the meat and make it difficult to cut thin slices.
- Apply steady, even pressure: Use a gentle sawing motion to cut through the meat, careful not to crush it.
- Slice to your desired thickness. Aim for about 1/8 inch or less for thin slicing.
- Your sliced beef is now ready for the next steps of tenderizing and velveting.
How To Tenderize Beef For Stir Fry
There are several methods for tenderizing beef, including using a meat mallet, marinating in acidic ingredients, slow cooking, etc.
However, one of the simplest and quickest is using baking soda and water.
Following are the steps to tenderize beef using baking soda
- In a small bowl, mix together 1/8th of a teaspoon of baking soda with about 1/2 cup of water (this is for about 1 pound of beef). Dissolve baking soda by stirring.
- Add the sliced beef to the baking soda mixture, and make sure it’s completely coated.
- Leave the beef in the baking soda mixture for about 25 – 30 minutes. During this time, the baking soda will help to break down the fibers in the meat, making it more tender.
- Rinse thoroughly: Rinse the beef thoroughly under running water to remove any residue from the baking soda. This step is very important. Baking soda is alkaline and can give a soapy, slightly bitter flavor to your dish. This is why it is very important to rinse the beef well.
- Pat the beef dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
- You can use the beef for stir-frying now. However, I highly recommend going through the next step which is velveting the beef for the perfect stir fry.
Note: Your beef slices will turn bright red at this point, which is completely normal.
Velveting Beef For Stir Frying
Velveting is a Chinese cooking technique that involves coating raw meat in a mixture of cornstarch, water, and other ingredients. The velveting mixture helps to keep the beef moist and tender during stir-frying, and also helps to create a glossy, velvety texture.
- In a bowl, whisk together cornstarch, soy sauce, and vegetable oil.
- Add the beef slices to the bowl and mix until the beef is evenly coated with the velveting mixture.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the beef marinate in the refrigerator for at least 10-15 minutes.
The beef is now ready to be stir-fried!
Try our Beef And Broccoli Stir Fry and All Purpose Chinese Sauce for your next stir fry.
More recipes you may like
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How To Prepare Beef For Stir Fry
- 1 Chopping Board
- 1 Sharp Slicing Knife
- 1 Bowl For Marinating Beef
- 1 lb Beef Steak (1 lb = 400 g) Chilled
- 1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 1 teaspoon Corn Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
Slicing The Beef
- Start with a well-chilled piece of meat: This will make it easier to slice thinly.
- Trim any excess fat or gristle (white connective tissue).
- Cut against the grain: Make thin slices (less than 1/8 inch thick)
- In the mixing bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of water.
- Add the thinly sliced beef to this mixture. Mix well, so that the beef is coated with the liquid.
- Let it sit for about 25-30 minutes
- Rinse the beef thoroughly under running water to remove any residue from the baking soda. This step is very important.
- Pat the beef dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
- Once the beef is tenderizerd, add cornflour, oil, and soy sauce, and coat well.
- Let this marinate for 10-15 minutes.
- Beef is now ready for stir fry.
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Information given here is for general purposes only. Please check with your doctor particular ingredient or way of eating is suitable for you. Our nutritional values are calculated by Spooncular API. While we try our best to ensure these values are correct, please confirm these independently.
10 Comments on “How To Prepare Beef For Stir Fry”
This is a great recipe for how to prepare beef, or any meat for a stir fry. I love that it uses the technique of velveting, as that truly does make meat tender and juicy.
Love these tips and tricks! So helpful!
Very informative post. Stir fries are such a quick and easy meal. The family will enjoy this.
Normally I just slice up beef and toss it in the pan, but I followed your directions to the T and it came out so much better!
I have always bought stir-fry meat already cut but after trying this recipe, I will do it myself from now on. It’s so easy.
So, I tried this method last night and I have to say, this is a game changer! For years I have over marinated beef for stir fry. The baking soda really did work wonders. Thanks for a great, great technique!
What a great primer! I love the tips you gave, and now I know why my stir fries have always been tough – I cut the meat wrong! Never again!
Fantastic recipe with lost of flavor. The beast part is that it is so easy to make. Thank you for sharing.
Outstanding tips for slicing beef. I usually buy the strips pre-sliced from the meat counter, but these are great instructions for doing it at home. The tip to tenderize the beef strips with baking soda and water is a game changer.