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Mar 27, 2011 09:41 PM

baking soda as a tenderizer - has ruined my food twice now....

the first dish was a hoisin stir fry and the second dish was japanese curry (S&B)...i was using chicken breast both times (not the ideal meat but that's what i had) - not a lot of fat so i'd thought i would tenderize them with a baking soda paste (from a couple of posts i read here on chow). i would sprinkle BS on the sliced pieces of chicken and mix with dashes of water until pasty. this mixture would sit for 20 mins. then, i would rinse well before adding to the cooking process.

the food has turned out bad in that there is a very unpleasant aftertaste - i can't even describe it. when this first happened, i thought it was a result of improper seasoning. then, it happened again and i knew it was the BS.

this was especially frustrating with the curry because it is something that always tastes very delicious (it's very forgiving)...


did i not apply the BS correctly / with the correct method?

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  1. I would never think chicken needs "tenderizing".

    1. That's not how you do it.

      You need egg whites, not just corn starch.

      Start by slicing your chicken (or other meat), pound it out if you want but not necessary. Combine the meat with soy sauce, sugar, salt (optional), sesame oil (optional), Chinese cooking wine, a mixture of corn starch & water, and egg whites. Egg whites are a base and they do the brunt of the tenderizing. They're also what gives the meat that "velvety" texture, which is why the entire process is often called "velvetting". Marinate for 30 minutes or longer if you have the time.

      Then cook as desired, usu. stir frying, but usually never with curry which just sounds odd to me.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        ipsedixit, i didn't mention anything about cornstarch but thanks for the info...

        1. re: xiaobao12

          Oops. Sorry, misread your post.

          Never used baking soda.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            My brain did the same exact thing, I'm not sure i've heard of using baking soda...

            1. re: chef chicklet

              I just remembered that I use baking soda sometimes to crisp up pork skin before roasting, sometimes roast chicken as well.

              But never for a tenderizier, or to velvet, or to marinade.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          Agree that cornstarch is the key, not baking soda, but I've never used egg whites. Just toss the meat with cornstarch and let it sit for about as long as you suggested. I make a sauce separately, then lightly brown the meat, adding the sauce to finish cooking the meat. The sauce chickens with help from the cornstarch.

        3. Have never tried it on chicken but use it on eye of round beef, and also pork loin for stir-fry. I dissolve a scant teaspoon in 2 - 3 tablespoons of water and massage into the sliced meat (1 to 2 pounds). Let soak for no more then 15 minutes. Next I basically "wash" the tenderized meat in 2 rinses of cold water. Pour into metal colander to thoroughly drain the meat. After 20 minutes or so I apply the desired marinade for 30 more minutes.

          8 Replies
          1. re: letsindulge

            thanks for the responses - does anybody know if the baking soda imparts a unpleasant taste if not rinsed off? i still don't know why it caused my food to have that same, nasty taste both times...

            1. re: xiaobao12

              Very possible. When you gargle with it, it's got a weird, metallic, burning kind of taste. I think I remember being told in science lab that that's what a base tastes like. I guess bases aren't very common in food, because it's a very odd, unfamiliar taste.

              1. re: jvanderh

                Mine had a nasty taste as we'll did it three times as the life hack video described it was awful

              2. re: xiaobao12

                Baking soda tastes awful! To be honest, I have never heard of this technique and even if I had, I wouldn't try it. Try tasting baking soda by itself. Just a bit on the end of your finger. I think you will agree that it isn't pleasant. I can't even stand when quick breads use too much of the stuff.

                I have used corn starch and potato starch to "velvet" my chicken, and that works very well. I only use this technique when I am cooking Chinese foods.

                1. re: smtucker

                  My recipe for sauteed beef with noodles called for tapioca it must be all the same mechanism...and indicates that it's starch, not baking soda the OP is after.

                  (I brush my teeth with it on occasion, but at those kind of concentrations in a cooked dish? Yecch)

                2. re: xiaobao12

                  yes. baking soda tastes extremely nasty. no surprise it would make food taste that way.

                  1. re: xiaobao12

                    pH imbalance. Once I left the lemon juice out of my muffins because I thought it was ridiculous to ask for that much lemon juice in a muffin recipe, and the flat-topped alkaline-pucks told me why.

                    1. re: xiaobao12

                      I just Googled "tenderizing baking soda" and found lots of article including some on this site.

                      Sounds like 20m minutes is too long. Most articles said if it went too long the meat would taste like soda.

                      I would tenderize another way.

                  2. i personally never heard of tenderizing meat with baking soda. but maybe i'm thinking of the "velveting" technique that uses cornstarch. aren't those the same? hmmmm. confused now.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: linguafood

                      it's great for teeth whitening, tho '-)

                      1. re: linguafood

                        thanks to all for the posts - i guess i really should not have used baking soda. but for all those curious as to where i got the idea:




                        1. re: xiaobao12

                          I've read a whole lot of Chinese cookbooks in English and Chinese in my day and been around Chinese home cooks, and I have never seen baking soda mentioned as a tenderizer once that I can remember. It does have a nasty taste and even if I did see it mentioned I wouldn't do it. Too bad it ruined your dishes, that's a shame.

                          1. re: xiaobao12


                            Where in the Young recipe quoted above does it call for baking soda? She uses cornstarch. I have made that recipe and it is delicious! Well worth a re-try with cornstarch.

                            I think you have confused two ingredients in your mind.

                            1. re: smtucker

                              one of the comments suggested using baking soda to tenderize - see below the recipe. i did not confuse the BP and BS but i guess i used BS the wrong way.

                              1. re: xiaobao12

                                Personally, I would take the word of a world-renowned cookbook author over a random internet poster. But I can emphasize, this is a great recipe as written!

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  Acids and bases are generally more reactive than starch. I'd have tried the baking soda too.

                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                    How did the baking soda taste to you? Did you have the same reaction as xiaobao?

                            2. re: xiaobao12

                              Some Chinese restaurants use baking soda as a meat tenderizer - it is illegal in NYC though.

                                1. re: xiaobao12

                                  Old (and antiquated health law.) Baking soda used on meats reduces their thiamin content. In the USA we are not short of this vitamin (B1) so I do not know why the rule is still in place. Most likely from an earlier age when that was a concern.

                        2. I've definitely heard of baking soda used as a tenderizer. I've also heard of the velveting technique, which is completely different. Using baking soda as a tenderizer (even a small amount) can impart a different taste to the meat that some find utterly repulsive (even when washed out of the meat), and the texture of the meat can be a bit gummy.