This no fail method of velveting beef will get you amazingly tender results.
You know how when you go to a Chinese restaurant or takeaway and you order a beef stir fry, it always seems to be really tender and delicious? Well, the way the chefs get that flavour and tender meat is by velveting beef in the way I demonstrate below.
I promise you will be amazed at how good your next beef stir fry is. I recommend trying this with my beef and black bean sauce recipe.
Velveting beef is a little secret that really isn’t a secret anymore.
About this method of velveting beef.
There are several ways of velveting beef and this method is great for stir fries.
“Velveting” is a cooking technique used in Chinese cuisine to prepare meat, typically chicken, beef, or pork, for stir-frying. Often it involves a process of coating thin slices of meat in a mixture of egg white, corn flour (corn starch) and often Shaoxing wine and/or soy sauce. This coating forms a protective layer around the meat, helping to seal in the moisture and maintain tenderness during the cooking process.
In the method below, I will show you another way of doing this with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) that in my opinion get the best results. You can still marinate the meat in the egg white mixture mentioned above for a day or so but you will be amazed at how well this shorter method works.
Which beef cuts are best for this method of velveting beef?
When you cook up a beef stir fry such as beef in black bean sauce, you do not need to use expensive cuts of meat. The best cuts are the less expensive cuts that are naturally tougher but also usually have more flavour.
Cuts such are often simply stir fried but end up being a bit tough. Velveting beef will fix that problem and it’s really easy too. For stir fries, I recommend using cuts such as skirt, flank, chuck or in this case rump.
How do you slice the beef for stir fries?
Velveting beef will get you extraordinary tender results but that isn’t the only thing you need to consider. You must slice the meat correctly or it will be tough regardless of using this velveting beef method.
I is essential that you slice the beef into thin strips against the grain. When you look at some cuts of beef such as skirt or flank, it is really easy to see which way the grain of the meat runs. With other cuts such as the rump steak below, it is a little more difficult.
If you look at the photo closely, you’ll see the grain of the meat running through it. You want to cut across those grains so that the meat is tender to eat.
What if you cut the meat with the grain instead of against it?
Velveting beef is a great way of tenderising it but if you cut with the grain, you will be disappointed at how tough and chewy it is. In the photo below, I sliced some beef with the grain. It’s sliced into long strands of tough meat. In the following photo, I show the incorrectly sliced beef together with the beef cut against the grain.
Can you see why the meat cut against the grain will be much easer to eat than the long strand of beef cut incorrectly? With your meat sliced thinly against the grain, it’s time to start velveting the beef for your stir fry.
What is the first step in velveting beef?
After you slice the meat against the grain, it’s time to start the velveting process. Generally speaking, you should add 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) for for every 500g (1 1/4 lbs.) of beef. Place your sliced meat in a bowl and add bicarbonate of soda. Add about 70ml (1/4 cup) water and mix it all in well with your hands. The meat needs to be completely coated.
Allow it to sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours like this.
Is baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) the same as baking powder?
No. Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents used in baking, hence the names. They are not the same, and they have different chemical compositions and functions. The differences between them apply mostly to baking so I will make this short for the purposes of this recipe.
- Baking Soda: This is a basic compound, also known as sodium bicarbonate. That is all it is. Pure and simple.
- Baking Powder: This is a combination of an acid (usually cream of tartar) and a base (usually baking soda), along with a starch such as corn flour (cornstarch) to keep the two from reacting prematurely. It is also saltier than baking soda.
So there is a lot more going on in baking powder and it does not have as much baking soda in it which is what you need for velveting beef. You can still use baking powder for velveting beef but I recommend using three times as much (4 1/2 tsp) per 500g (1 1/4 lbs.) beef. Whatever you use, it is essential that you get it all off the meat before cooking.
How to remove the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).
Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) will give your meat a bad flavour if it is not removed before cooking.
The process of velveting beef is now complete and it’s ready to use in your stir fry.
Now that you have velveted that beef, it is ready to use in a stir fry. Your meat will be super tender and much more tender than if you had not done this.
There is another way of velveting beef that can be done in combination with the above process or on its own. So to make things clear, you can just use the bicarbonate of soda way of velveting beef and/or the marinating and frying method below. Both methods will get you nice and tender beef. In my recipe for Chinese crispy beef, I only used the marinating and frying method and the meat was amazing. I did you sirloin for that though. Tougher, cheaper cuts will benefit from using both methods.
Velveting beef using the marinating and frying method.
In this method, you marinate the meat in a liquid marinade that not only adds flavour but also gets lots of moisture into the beef. That marinated beef is then flash fried.
All you want to do is fry the meat in hot oil for about a minute to brown the outside. You are not cooking the meat through at this stage. Remove the meat from the oil when it is nicely browned and transfer it to a plate until needed for your stir fry. Adding the par-cooked meat to a stir fry produces super tender meat.
You can use these methods for velveting beef even if the recipe does not call for it.
Often, recipes are written to be as simple as possible for the home cook. Velveting beef like may not be part of the recipe you are using. That said, there is no reason why you should not do it and a lot of reasons you should.
Velveting beef produces meat that is really juicy and tender. Be sure to try one or both of the methods above next time you stir-fry meat. These methods work for other cuts of meat such as chicken and lamb too.
Want to try some amazing Chinese food at home? Try some of these delicious recipes:
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Crispy Chicken and Broccoli
- Salt and Pepper Chicken
- Sesame Chicken
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Orange Chicken
- Hainan Chicken
- Spicy Chicken Chow Mein
- Mongolian Beef
- Chinese Crispy Beef
- Egg Drop Soup
- Spicy Won Ton Soup
- Egg Fried Rice
- Chinese Chicken Curry
Have you tried these methods for velveting beef?
If yes, please give it a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.
- 500g (1 1/4lbs) beef rump, skirt or flank steak, sliced against the grain
- 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 70ml (1/4 cup) water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rapeseed (canola) or corn oil
- 1 tbsp corn flour (corn starch
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- Place the beef slices in a large mixing bowl and add the bicarbonate of soda. Work it in well with your hands to coat the meat. Then add the water and continue work it all in until all the meat is evenly coated. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. The longer marinating time will make the meat even more tender like you would expect from a quality Chinese restaurant.
- Transfer the beef to a colander and rinse it thoroughly to get all the bicarb (baking soda) off. This is an important step as if you leave the bicarbonate of soda on, it will give the meat a bad flavour. Transfer the rinsed meat to a bowl and dry it a little with paper towels.
- Add the soy sauce, oil, Shaoxing wine or dry sherry and corn flour (corn starch) to the beef and mix it all up to combine. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes or go straight to cooking. The longer marinating time will produce tastier results.
- Your beef is now ready to use in a stir-fry but there is one further thing you can do to make your stir fried beef even better!
- The additional and optional step is to heat 70ml (1/4 cup) corn or rapeseed (canola) oil in a wok over a high heat. When the oil begins to glisten, add a few pieces of the beef and fry it to brown the exterior.
- You are just flash frying the meat at this stage so that the meat is browned on the exterior but still quite rare or medium rare in the centre.
- Do this in small batches and each batch should only take about a minute. Transfer the par-cooked meat to a plate to use in your stir-fries.
Which method to use: You can use one or both of the methods for velveting beef in this recipe. For cheaper, tougher cuts of beef, I recommend using both.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 87Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 749mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g