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Alternative Beef Cuts for Chinese Stir Fry

I asked this question a couple of years ago and then completely forgot about it. Although I found the post, the thread died soon after without an answer, so I'm asking again...

I'm interested in the type of beef that Chinese restaurants use, the ones who don't use the good meat like the flank steak or the flap meat. When they charge $5 for a dish and it's large enough for 2 meals, I doubt they are using the good stuff, right? So what meat do you think they are using? I'm not saying I want to do that all time, but maybe at least to try it. I'm hoping there are alternatives that don't require the baking soda.

I know Safeway sells one that is marked "stir fry" and taste like the beef in beef stroganoff, and that's NOT what I'm looking for. Thanks.

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  1. I typically will use either ribeye or sirloin.

    If you want a cheaper alternative, the most common option would be flank or beef shoulder steak or sometimes bottom round.

    Whatever cut of beef you use, remember the following tips:

    - Cut against the grain and cut the strips thin and evenly sized. The easiest way to cut thin strips is to partially freeze the beef before cutting.

    - After cutting up the beef, make the following mixture: soy sauce, rice wine, corn starch and a bit of water. Stir and marinate beef in the mixture for about 10-15 minutes.

    - Get your pan (or preferrably wok) hot. Hot like "Africa Hot". Stir fry your beef for just a minute or two, basically until the middle is pink or orange-red..

    - Then continue with the rest of your recipe, e.g. add veggies, etc. When the veggies are done, add the beef and give it a nice twirl or two in the wok and you're good to go.

    - If you choose a cut of beef with lots of silverskin just tell the butcher to remove. They'll do it for you in a snap. They're butchers, it's their job.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Oh, thanks for letting me know about the "silverskin." I hate it when that happens, and my good meat ends up tasting chewy! Then my husband will say, "are you sure you cut across the grain?!" <sigh>. I'll check out the beef shoulder and bottom round.

      1. re: boltnut55

        Depending on where you reside, the cut of meat known as Flat Iron Steak or Top Blade Steak, is a tender and very flavorful cut of meat. It's usually under $4.00/lb, but it often goes on sale for less than $3.00/lb around my parts. If you can gain access to a wholesale meat supplier, you can get it for $2.25 and under almost always.. The same would go for Hanger Steak as well.

        1. re: fourunder

          I never see flat irons for that price around me but I do see top blade roasts for as little as $3.49/lb which I buy up and cut into flat irons

          1. re: fourunder

            I second that, FLat Iron steaks are near premium price here and at least $5 to $6lb on sale. I can't even get 80/20 hamburger for under $4lb.

            1. re: Atochabsh

              Today's prices for me are also $5-6 at the local supermarket....usually < $4.50/lb wholesale.

      2. At my nearby cheap buffet, they use rump roast, cut 1/8 thick. And yes, they use baking soda. Ever taken an Alka Seltzer? It's no worse than that, plus you rinse it off.

        If you can get your butcher to use the Hobart slicer to slice the roast into 1/8 inch slices, you're ahead of the game.

        1 Reply
        1. re: FoodFuser

          I find London broil easy to work with. Yes adding baking soda to the marinade helps. I made London broil yesterday by just marinating it in a Chinese sauce. Broiling the meat for 3-4 minutes each side, roasting it for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Slicing the meat very thin at a 90 degree angle. Tasted like roast beef.

        2. When I bought beef for my former Korean restaurant, it was a bulk cut called beef knuckle or "whole, peeled knuckle"

          http://www.chow.com/ingredients/236

          1. Commercial grade tenderloins - they are on the small side and the silver skin needs to be trimmed but that is what most of the better restaurants used.

            I have never seen them sold in stores but I have ordered whole cases from a local butcher. They come frozen and cases are around 50-60 lbs, and prices swing wildly. I have seen them as low as $2.40 /lb and as high as 4.79 /lb.

            They also make a decent petite filet mignon steak.

            On the cheaper end Rump Roasts and beef knuckle are used quite often too. The rump roast has the best flavor of the three while the knuckle is cheaper, just remember what other people have said, cut against the grain and keep pieces thin.

            1. The difficulty with your question is compounded by the misleading names given to beef cuts. You really have to ask the vendor what cut is it "really". There seems to be no iron-clad rule for naming beef cuts. For example, just what is "stir fry"? There are many on line web sites you could access to learn about beef cuts.