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My beef is always tough when I make stir fries.

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

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.

post #2 of 30

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

post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

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

So besides tenderizing I am overcrowding my pan as well!

post #4 of 30

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

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 30

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

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post #6 of 30

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.

post #7 of 30

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.

post #8 of 30

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. 

post #9 of 30

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.

post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 

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!

post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jblade View Post
...P.S. Electric stoves suck!

AMEN!
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #12 of 30

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.

post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 

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.  

post #14 of 30

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.

post #15 of 30

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.

post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 

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

post #17 of 30

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.

post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 

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?

post #19 of 30

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

post #20 of 30

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.

post #21 of 30

Some  tricks for working with an electric stovetop.

 

Marinate your meat.  I find blade steak or rump works well this way.  But make sure to cut it *very thin across the grain, and then pound it with a meat mallet or cleaver (blunt edge) befor your marinate.

 

Get the wok/pan as hot as you can until it's smoking, add oil then you only need toss and sear until the meat has *just turned brown, just until the pink disappears, and.  do it it small batches and remove to a plate once done.   It really doesn't take long - with constant movement of the pieces it takes 30 secs (as you'll be cooking it further later) This is to keep the heat to the maximum it can be and not to stew the meat but to fry it.

 

Then do your aromatics, i.e. garlic, ginger and onion, plus any spices you want until they are nice and flavoursome, don't burn that garlic or you'll have to start again.  It will be bitter and inedible.  Then add your stock, sauces, cornflour slurry, wait until it thickens, and pop the beef with any juices back in.  Quickly reheat and serve - NOW.  Otherwise the beef will toughen up.

 

It is really a matter of having everything in place and having the phone off the hook and members of the household (if any) otherwise occupied.  And make sure you have rice/noodles/veg prepared before you put the beef in.  This is what I do and dare I say it, I get a god result.  tender hot beef in a sauce.   Yummers.

 

Hope this has helped in some way.  It's from a home cooking point of view, not pro, so take what applies to your situation.

 

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post #22 of 30
Thread Starter 

I was there this morning and picked up that wok, it is a flat bottom carbon steel wok they say is nonstick but it isn't teflon coated I plan to be using this week sometime.

 

And yes DC you have helped and thank you for your input.

post #23 of 30
Thread Starter 

Well I finally got around to making a stir fry, "beef broccoli"

 

Using the advice and feedback I got, I used my new wok, I pounded the beef almost paper thin, used smokin hot oil and was amazed how fast it seared (within seconds) removed from heat and did my veg then added back my beef for about 30 seconds. 

 

The whole thing took me about 3 or 4 minutes most of wich was veg time, in comparison to this dish taking me about 10 minutes previously.

 

The results were amazing, my family would like to thank everyone who helped with this, and so do I, because they loved it!

 

So thanks gang, they want to know when I am gonna make it again! (This is a good feeling)

post #24 of 30

I've always had the same problem!

 

Now I can teach my mom something, which is always fun.

post #25 of 30

If you slice the beef, or any meat actually, across the grain, it will act more tender than otherwise.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #26 of 30

fillet steak is the best, but the priciest. It helps by the you cut your meat..try slicing the meat across the grain

post #27 of 30

Make sure flank is cut cross grain and very thin. Marinating prior will help  Do Not overcook

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post #28 of 30

Pork and chicken yes, but I've never tried to velvet beef.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #29 of 30

I know it may not seem like it would make a considerable difference, but I use cornstarch and it really does work, because I've done it with and without.

 

Here is a link I just goggled to back up my belief.

http://fussylittleblog.com/2009/07/06/the-secret-to-oddly-tender-chinese-meat/

 

Also "velveting" the meat works as well if you have the extra time.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jblade View Post
 

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.

In addition to using top sirloin or flank steak, and cutting against the grain, keep your portions to approximately 12 ounces*, try thinner slices, (1/4"), and a hotter pan, (water vaporizes, in the pan, in 1-2 seconds).

 

*For a 14" wok.  

For a skillet, all of the meat should should lie flat in the pan with some space between the pieces.


Edited by Full Sack - 12/3/14 at 4:59pm
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