HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


How do you get tender beef in Chinese dishes?

  • p

Could you provide some tips on how they get the beef and chicken in Chinese dishes (especially stir-fry dishes)so tender?

Although I thinly slice the beef and try not to overcook it, the results are disappointing.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Marinating in oil is one technique. Are you using flank steak?

    1. If you have no problems with MSG, use some Accent in the maranade. Will really tenderize the meat.

      1. Some restaurants put some baking soda in the marinade. It really makes the beef tender but a bit spongy. Some people really like the texture, some don't care for it.

        1. As the other poster have started MSG and baking soda will soften the meat. But not everyone can take MSD and I can taste baking soda if left on the meat too long.

          If you make sure the meat is accross the grain straight down with no angle at all this will help. Also keep it thin.

          Also the marinade you can use to help it be tender with out affectting the taste is

          soy sauce
          sesame oil

          Let stand for at least 30 minutes.

          Also it has cook quickly over high heat. If your cook top can not give you high heat, you may have cook in batches.

          1. With chicken, I have used the technique of "velveting" that Barbara Tropp describes in her tome on Chinese cooking. Cube chicken; marinate it in a mix of beaten egg whites, cornstarch, and Chinese rice wine; gently parboil the cubed chicken; finally finish cooking the chicken in whatever sauce you are using.

            Parboiling the marinated chicken apparently seals the juices in because the cornstarch and eggwhite harden into an imperceptibly thin film. The taste and texture are hard to believe -- moist and almost bouncy. The first couple of times I tried it, I was concerened that the finished chicken was raw because it was juicier than any cooked chicken I had ever tasted.

            I have never tried velveting beef, pork, or seafood. My hunch is that it would work very well for shrimp and scallop. I haven't cooked enough with beef or pork to guess whether velveting would work.

            1. I found this idea on a Chinese food board, I forget where. The poster said it was standard procedure.

              Cut the meat in strips, rub in baking soda, let it sit, put it in a colander and rinse well. The traditional way is to give it a "water massage" by putting it under a slowly running tap for several hours. The meat gets gray, but cooks well and is very tender.

              1. As the other posters mentioned using baking soda and letting the meat marinade for 20 min will give you the best result. Also, by adding some water to your marinade will help tenderize the meat. Beef specially will absorb more water once it’s cut.

                Most Chinese restaurants flash fry their meats and veggies before stir-frying for the second time. You may want to add more oil to your hot wok or pan when you’re cooking it and dump the oil out after the meat is cooked.

                3 Replies
                1. re: theSauce

                  Thanks for all the feedback - I definitely will try these methods out.

                  With regards to the baking soda - what ratio of beef to baking soda do you suggest?

                  1. re: Pizza Lover

                    Depends on the amount of beef is being used. For 1 lb of meat, I would use 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 3 tablespoon of water, 2 Tablespoon of oil, 1 Tablespoon of soy, 1 T of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce. Marinate the the meat for at least 30 min.

                    Good luck.

                    1. re: theSauce

                      Do you rinse afterwards so you won't taste the baking soda?