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Chinese-Its baking soda!

Hi, Im new to the boards and for the longest time my husband and I could not figure out how they get the meat in the stir frys soft. Its baking soda.Just sprinkle it on the cut meat and let sit for 10 minutes. Not too long though or else it seem sthe meat really breaks down and becomes almost fishy tasting. Just be sure to rinse and dry the meat thoroughly before cooking........Michelle

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    1. re: cheesemonger

      What is velveting? I thought the trick was cornstarch.

      1. re: danhole

        Never mind - I just saw the other post about this!

        1. re: danhole

          Same trick. You would use starch in your marinade then cook the meat in oil (medium heat). When the meat is nearly cooked through, remove from the wok then carry on with the aromatics, etc. Then add the meat back in to cook all the way through.

      2. Baking soda, though, still is used when blanching greens, I think to help it keep its colour from turning dull/yellow.

        (One of those things that grandma/mom always did that was supposed to be common sense!)

        1. yup. baking soda, cornstarch, msg. don't ask me how i know...

          1. Velveting ( using eggwhite & cornstarch ) will preserve the juices of the meat and the low heat (oil at 275*F ) will not cause the protein to stiffen so the meat will be more tender and juicy. Baking soda will literally cause the proteins to break down (unwind? ) ..... if you use too much baking soda it can leave a harsh taste ..... I think 1/2 teaspoon per pound of sliced meat ( for stir fry ) - mixed into the marinade ingredients so it's evenly dispersed, is plenty. 10-15 minutes is enough marinade time. With this amount you will not need to rinse it off and you won't taste it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gordon wing

              Yes, the two methods act differently and create much different effects on the meat. Besides the risk of bitter taste with baking soda, too much can render the meat too mushy. Also, I've been told that besides leeching flavor, it also leeches a great deal of the nutritional value if you use too much baking soda.

            2. I always use baking soda in the marinade (soy sauce and cornstarch) for stir fry. You have to be careful not to use too much though or it will have an off taste. If I'm feeling good and not lazy, I'll oil blanch the meat.

              1. Yeah, that's a standard restaurant trick to denature the proteins.

                I never do it though as it makes the meat less flavorful. If you buy cuts of meat like flap meat or flank steak you can just cut it correctly and velvet it with cornstarch.

                1. I have always used cornstarch with beef in my stir fries but have never heard of the baking soda. Will give it a careful try next time.

                  I put chicken into milk (or veal) and let it sit for 1 - 3 hours before cooking, a trick my husband the cook taught me, and he calls that velvet-ing. As I understand it, the lactic acid helps break down the fibers in the meat and make it more tender. There is probably a much more scientific explanation but that is mine and it seems to work great especially for things where you are cooking the meat in a large piece, marsalas, piccatas, parmessans, ect..(please excuse any spelling errors!).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jodymaryk

                    you put chicken into veal? How does that help anything? ;P

                    I always velvet by marinating in shaoshing and cornstarch, and cooking on high heat only the very outer bit of the meat while stirring. It remains raw inside, then removed while I get the other things going.

                    I'd be hesitant to use baking soda or anything that would be known to attribute an off taste- I mean, why?

                    1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                      Your right, that wouldn't help anything. How about I put my chicken or veal into milk? It's been a lazy Sunday and I guess my brain is on it's weekend break!