Meats such as pork, beef, lamb, and chicken are very important ingredients in Chinese cooking. For many dishes, the meat preparation is one of the most important steps in cooking. In general a high quality cut of meat will yield a better dish. The problem is with today’s economy not everyone can afford to make a beef with broccoli with fillet migon (certainly I cannot).
Fortunately, there are ways you can turn your ordinary cuts of meat into a juicy tender stir-fried meat. The magic is to cut meat properly and have the right marinade. Just follow the below steps and see yourself preparing the perfect meat for your general stir-fried dishes.
1. How to Slice a Piece of Meat (demo on beef)
The way you cut your meat will directly affect the tenderness your of beef. To achieve the tenderness you will always want to cut the meat against the grain. What this does is to breakdown the grain which is what makes the meat tough. By disconnecting the grain you essential make the meat loose and it becomes a lot easier to chew.
The illustration above shows the direction of the grain and the direction of the slicing should be made.
Depending on the thickness of your meat, cutting the meat diagonally will create better result if your meat is relatively thin.
The thickness of your slices ranges from 2 inch chunks used in the stew to paper thin slice seen in Chinese hotpot. if you want to cut your meat evenly, just keep the meat in your freezer for 2 to 3 hours before you slice it. It helps you to create the consistency you always find in a restaurant.
2. How to Mrinade The Meat
Properly sliced meat sets up a good foundation for the dish you want to make. However the final result will also depend on your marinade.
The lists below shows some commonly used condiments. List 1 is mainly used to build up a basic flavor or sometimes used to mask some unwanted natural flavor from the meat. The on other hand, the purpose of list 2 is mainly to shape the texture of the meat. In our case, we want to make it tender and juicy.
List 1 Condiments for Flavor: Cooking Wine, Ground Ginger, Ground Garlic, Lemon Juice, Oyster Sauce, Salt, Pepper, Soy Sauce, Sugar, Vinegar, Water
List 2 Condiments for texture: Corn Starch, Egg, Potato Starch, Water
It’s important to follow the right order when you marinade.
i) First, in a salad bowl mix the meat with the condiments used for flavoring (list 1).
ii) Keep on swirling the meat using a spoon or pair of chopsticks or your hand. Use your spare hand to slowly pour some water (about 1 teaspoon each time) to the mixing. The idea is to let the meat absorb the water and other condiments. Repeat this step 2 to 3 times until the meat is well moisturized.
iii) Add your selected condiments from list 2 to to the meat and mix well. The use of starch will create a shielding to the meat surface to keep your meat juicy when cooking
iv) Let it the meat sit for 30 minutes before you cook it. You can also marinade your meat a day in advance just keep it chilled in your refrigerator.
3. Want to Cook Shredded Meat
If you prefer the julienned meat rather than the sliced piece you can follow the below additional step.
You will still need to slice the meat first following the instructions above.
Stack up the sliced pieces and make additional cuts over the slices. Make sure these cuts are also against the grain.
Marinade the shredded meat using the same way described above and you are ready to make some delicious tender stir-fried meat.