My beef is always tough when I make stir fries.

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by jblade, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. jblade

    jblade

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    Hey gang no matter what I do, I cant get my beef to come out how it does restaurant stir frys.

    I know that the cut of meat comes into play, and I have experimented with chuck steak (wich was the worst) flank steak and skirt steaks.

    Can anyone help me not kill my meat in my stir frys?

    Thanks for your time.
     
  2. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Whack it with the side of your cleaver and don't try and stir fry more than 2oz. at a time.
     
  3. jblade

    jblade

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    Oh wow, I usually do a couple of pounds in an 18" skillet.

    So besides tenderizing I am overcrowding my pan as well!
     
  4. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Odds are you're not getting the temperature high enough, especially if you're using a non-stick skillet.

    Look at the shape of a wok, there is a very small area in the very center that gets very hot over a burner that has anywhere from three to six times the heat capacity of a home burner. AFAIK, it is impossible to heat a skillet that hot!

    So, too much product, too little heat, and your pan is disbursing the heat rather than concentrating it.

    That's why I use my "turkey fryer burner", with my carbon steel 24" wok, it is rated for close to 60,000 btu
     
  5. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Make sure all meat is well trimmed, and free of connective tissue.

    If you're using meat with grain, it must be cut against the grain.   

    Some cuts and grades should be tenderized by pounding or with a jaccard.  

    Some cuts and grades benefit from marinating in acid.

    The more tender the beef you start with, the more tender the beef you'll end with -- providing you don't mess it up.  Try using Choice top sirloin, it's a very easy cut to work with.  Since you're probably not using much per serving, it shouldn't be too expensive.

    If you're putting too much meat in the pan, you're not stir frying at all.  The sheer mass of the meat brings the pan temperature down too far to get the benefits of a quick cook.  That doesn't have much to do with tenderness though. 

    Good luck,

    BDL
     
  6. babytiger

    babytiger

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    My grandmother (and other relatives) always marinated the meat. Sometimes up to a day or so ahead. The standard is some soy sauce, a little sugar, corn starch and oil. Sometimes a little Chinese wine is added, sometimes a little ginger. Right before cooking the meal, add a little water. Meat has to go into a hot wok and cook quickly. Often time the meat goes in and is taken out in about a minute. Set that aside and cook the vegetable in the same wok. At the end, the meat is added back in to finish cooking ( if needed) or just to combine.
     
  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Restaurants generally don't do much stir frying with the beef. They'll par cook it in a 300ish degree deep fry technique known as passing through oil. This way it is easy to cook beef  to the proper degree of doneness compared to stir frying.  Then it is finished/brought to temp in the final stages of the stir fry itself.

    They may also be velveting it.
     
  8. headless chicken

    headless chicken

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    Marinate in dark soy, corn starch, and some oil (veg oil is fine, peanut oil works best).  I typically use flank steak cutting against the grain, smoking hot wok, I sometimes see some cooks on wok stations cooking the meat in ample amounts of oil for a couple minutes.  Ample as in enough to submerge the meat in then removes the meat after 2mins, I know he uses inside round. 
     
  9. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Many Chinese restaurants also marinade their prepared beef in baking soda and water overnight to tenderize it.  The maridade, as described by Babytiger and Headlesschicken, masks the residual baking soda taste.  I think that makes the meat too mushy and prefer to jaccard or beat the meat with the side of a cleaver.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2010
  10. jblade

    jblade

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    So from what I am reading, I now know this...

    1. I should be tenderizing.

    2. I should not overcrowd the pan.

    3. Marinading the meat will help.

    From reading this I have learned...

    1. I know that a hot pan is essential.

    2. Baking soda will soften the meat.

    3. Some type of acid could be used to marinade.

    3. I may not be using enough oil.

    4. I need to learn what "velveting" means

    5. I need to get a wok, that is "not" nonstick

    I appreciate your feedback, and thank you all for your time.

    P.S. Electric stoves suck!
     
  11. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    AMEN!
     
     
  12. guitarfool5931

    guitarfool5931

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    Wouldn't you love to have one of those huge Wok burners you see on Iron chef in your kitchen?  That thing looks like a jet engine going off.
     
  13. jblade

    jblade

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    Yeah I would.

    Ya know what when I was 16 I worked in a chinese restaurant as a prep cook / dishwasher, and I hated that job, I cut vegetables for hours on end.

    Looking back I wish I would have paid more attention to what was going on on the line.  
     
  14. maryb

    maryb

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    Make sure you sear the meat for a minute or two, remove from the pan then cook the veg. Add the meat and any juices back at the end so they don't overcook.
     
  15. oldfoodguy

    oldfoodguy

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    A great inexpensive cut to work wiith is eye of round roast. The connective tissue is all on the outside and easy to strip. The grain of the cut is easy to follow and cutting is easy. For stir fry, freeze the roast slightly and then slice paper thin. The slices can be marinaded then rapidly fried in small batches to be re-combined with the cooked vegetables. Be sure to reserve all juices from the beef to add to the mix. Listen to all that was said about sufficient oil to cook the meat in. If the oil dosn't start bubbling again about 10 seconds after you add the meat, you but too much in. Not a disaster though, just pul some of it back out and decrease the amount you add each batch.
     
  16. jblade

    jblade

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    Thanks guys, some really sound advice from you all, I look forward to trying out some new techniques.
     
  17. maryb

    maryb

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    Walmart carries a cheap carbon steel wok that is useable and under $20. Season like cast iron and itis good to go. Stay away from non-stick for stir fry.
     
  18. jblade

    jblade

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    Yeah Mary I have seen that, (wife works at walmart) but I always shy away from woks because I have an electric stove, do think it still will work as the wok was designed to do?
     
  19. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Walmarts in my area have redone their kitchen department and that nice wok is gone. Replaced with a 12" non-stick. 

    Pick up a standalone induction burner (max burton 6000) and a flat bottom carbon steel wok and you'll have a powerful capable setup.

    Phil
     
  20. babytiger

    babytiger

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    I have a friend who uses a flat bottom wok on an electric stove. She has always cooked with woks in Hong Kong and just isn't use to a saute pan. She's still able to make great stir fry dishes.