Chinese Restaurant’s have the softest most tender beef you will find. What’s the secret? They use a process called ‘Velveting’ to tenderize the meat before they cook it in their stir fry dishes.
How to Velvet Beef or Chicken for Chinese Stir-Fry
|By author||Dish Ditty Recipes|
- 2lb Thinly Sliced Beef (Raw -- not cooked) (Tri tip works great)
- 2 tablespoons Baking Soda
- 1/2 cup Water
|Mix the baking soda and water together. Toss the sliced beef with the baking soda. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Marinade and stir fry as part of your recipe.|
There are several methods available, I’ve introduced the cornstarch/par-boil method in my ‘How to Velvet Chicken‘ post.
I have been experimenting with other methods of velveting, and I have found that the baking soda method is hands down the best way to tenderize meat for your stir fry. I was shocked at how soft in texture the beef was when I tried it.
I’ll be honest, I had read about this method a long time ago but was reluctant to try it. I just didn’t think the baking soda would make that much of a difference and I was worried that it would alter the taste. I was wrong. My tip for success is to not use too much baking soda, don’t marinade it longer than 30 minutes, and be sure to thoroughly rinse it (otherwise you might wind up with fizzy sauce).
AMAZING! It really is. Try it with your next stir fry. And… I think I’m going to try it the next time I make beef stroganoff. I have a feeling it will make a huge difference there.
Note: The recipe listed is Chinese Black Pepper Beef with Green Beans Recipe that hasn’t been posted yet. Sign up for email recipes to be sure not to miss that post.
53 thoughts on “How to Velvet Beef or Chicken for Chinese Stir Fry”
you saw toss the meat with baking soda. do you mean the water and baking soda mixture? At the end you say marinate and stir fry as part of your recipe…do you mean that after this process you should marinate your meat? does the amount of time matter? do you need to marinate it at all, considering youll be throwing some type of sauce into the stir fry anyways?
Yes, i’ll try to clarify. When toss the meat with baking soda I mean the baking soda/water mixture. Then use as directed by your recipe AFTER you completely rinse the baking soda away. Some recipes call for marinating the meat in a soy sauce mixture/etc. So, this step is prior to whatever marinade your recipe calls for.
So are you suppose to boil in for 30 seconds after your marinate your meat in the baking soda solution or are you stir frying right away?
Nobody said anything about boiling anything!? What are you talking about? LOL! Her instructions are VERY clear and precise..
You boil with the other method using cornstarch…
I actually have used this recipe for the velveting marinade. Although THIS recipe doesn’t mention boiling, I always boil mine for 1 minute after rinsing well. Even after rinsing well, I still find that there is a large amount of baking soda in the meat that comes out when you boil for 1 minute. You need a very large pot with enough water to cover the meat because the baking soda will cause it to foam up. Then I heat up about 2-3 tbsp of oil in a wok, stir fry an onion & while really hot I add in the meat to brown. Lower the heat & continue with your stir fry. ☺
Thanks Candi… There seems to be lots of variations of this recipe. My father told me it’s a way they used to tenderize meat when he was growing up (Irish and German food). So, I’m guessing there are lots of ways to achieve this. I found that soaking and rinsing several times works best for me. I didn’t like the taste of the meat when par-boiled.
Where does it say about boiling? You must have read it somewhere else.
I just found this website while searching for the method for velveting beef. It looks interesting. I’m looking forward to reading more ;posts.
Can you velvet pork as well?
I’ve never tried it. Let me know how it works if you do. I’m guessing you can, but I think the Chinese restaurants usually chop the pork by hand… It will tenderize it and put it into the smaller shape that’s needed. I tend to just go to the local Chinese market and buy the ‘thick’ ground pork. There’s two types, regular ground (which is found in most American stores) and then the ‘thick’ ground. The Chinese markets by me sell both at the meat counter.
Pretty clear to me..Thanks Dish Ditty
No wonder this nation is in sorry shape, it appears that a lot of people failed at reading comprehension. The post only mentions par-boil as a method the author had seen before, it was not mentioned on the “very clear” steps of this method. Thanks for sharing I’ll be trying this tonight.
Please be kind. Is this really a venue for criticism of your fellow readers? Is there such a thing as too much clarity? The instructions do not specifically indicate that the meat be raw or cooked…it just says thinly sliced..
It should be raw when marinated with the baking soda/water mixture. I just clarified that it’s raw, uncooked meat that should be used. I have no problem with clarity. 🙂 Thanks!
I have used this method many times,,,and yes even after rinsing off the beef in COLD water,,,I do find that the baking soda does come through when stir frying,,so the boiling makes sense to me,,,think I will try that method tonight,,,will let you all know how it comes out !!
Thanks Kathy, let me know how that works for you.
You will find velvet-ting works with Bicarbonate of soda also… My preferred method as it’s a cooking ingredient for baking anyway so no soapy/foamy residues to consider 😉
You will also find Bi Carb Soda and Baking Soda/powder are one and the same thing. Hence they both work.
Baking soda and baking powder are wholly different…. Baking Soda = sodium bicarbonate.
Please give me another name for tri tip, I’m not familiar with that cut of meat
Here’s a link to the description of tri tip: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tri-tip
Thank you! 2 years after you wrote this, I stumbled upon it today. I love making stir-fry, but had stopped using beef. It always came out blech! Too dry or too chewy. This process/recipe made my pepper steak perfect. My family actually moaned over it. Thank you for sharing something we’ll use from this day forward! Hugs!
You are welcome! I’m so glad it worked well for your family. 🙂
I’m going to try this for supper tomorrow night.I have an eye of the round roast that I am using the ends of. Saving the rest of the roast for another dinner. Will let You know
I hope you liked it!
I’ve found that a rinse of vinegar and then washing the vinegar off after the baking soda has done its magic works well in getting rid of the sometimes metallic after taste.
Great tip! Thanks!
I know I’m late to finding and posting this, but I use a velveting recipe taught to me by some Chinese friends who owned a restaurant marinating the meat in egg whites, cornstarch, water or rice wine, and salt for 15 to 30 minutes, during which time the mixture forms a gossamer-thin coating on the meat and the alkaline egg whites tenderize the meat by changing its pH. The meat is then blanched in simmering water or oil to set the coating, which will protect the meat against the blazing heat of the wok. The coating turns plush and silky as it cooks. It is the traditional version and OMG, the meat is so tender and the velvet “coat” helps any sauce cling to the meat. I’m a chef by trade, but never could get mine to the awesome tenderness that this one does!
For the marinade, they use:
1lb meat you prefer
4 tsp cornstarch (important to make that velvety coating)
1 tsp salt or soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine or rice wine vinegar (rice wine preferred)
1 egg white (to raise the ph of the meat to keep the fibers from tightening) *** note** you can substitute the egg white with baking soda which also raises ph
Marinate the meat in the egg whites (or baking soda), cornstarch, rice wine, and salt for 15 to 30 minutes, during which time the mixture forms a gossamer- like thin coating on the meat and the alkalinity of the egg whites tenderize the meat by changing its pH.
Then blanch the meat in simmering water or oil to set the coating, which will protect the meat against the blazing heat when stir frying. The coating turns plush and silky as it cooks which gives it that “cling” effect that holds sauce.
I have tried the oil instead of water, but it’s messy and harder to balance without starting the cooking process. A good workaround is to add sesame oil (or any oil really) to the blanching water.
Lastly, for example, if you like that deep fried beef version of beef and broccoli you get at some Chinese restaurants, the velvet meat can be fried in just a couple of inches of oil for that slightly crispy texture and the meat still stays soft on the inside— my favorite!
Trust me, this method works fantastic and as well, You can also do this step ahead of time to cook later for fast stir fry
Thanks for your insight!
Can’t wait to try this method. What other meat cuts would you recommend if Tri-Tip is unavailable?
You can use any marbled cut like rib roasts. But, do not, I repeat, do not use London Broil. It just does not work well.
Edit- Sorry! I think my iPad copied and pasted the same instructions twice in my original post…..
Also, all the ingredients except the salt should be Tbs, NOT Tsp!
Lastly, if you velvet in oil instead of water, this will effectively “fry” it instead of frying it in the additional step I mentioned. Just blanch it in peanut or canola oil for 3-5 minutes to get it golden brown and make sure you have enough oil to cover meat completely.
So, if you want the version in the picture, blanch the velvet meat in water for 30 seconds to 1 minute or if you want the fried, crunchy outside texture (soft inside) blanch it in oil as mentioned above. Both are awesome (I just love the crispness of blanching in oil)
Sorry for the confusion!
Would this work of Steaks also?
I think it would make the steaks a little odd, but hey, try it and let me know! 🙂
Thank you for posting. I’ve always avoided stir frying because of tough meat. Will definitely give it a try. 🙂
I tried this method of velveting last week for a chicken stir fry, and it turned out EXCELLENT! How did I not know about this sooner? Can’t wait to try on some beef dishes. Thank you!
Thanks Debbie! It’s amazing, right? The meat becomes so tender. My dad told me that they used to do this for some tough cuts of beef when he was a kid. I guess it’s a method that went away with the invention of MSG (yuk!). 🙂
Used this method on several occasions whenever I stir fried beef. Works great! Flavour and texture of the beef tastes fantastic! I first saw this method used on a food show, no par-boiling required, simply rinse the meat off.
Yes! The par boiling tends to make the beef taste bland and just not very tender in my opinion. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe.
Made chicken chop suey using soda tenderizing, yumm. I’m going to have to try this with the ground pork for wontons, maybe I’ll finally get that velvety interior texture my favorite restaurant wontons have LOL
I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
To neutralize the bicarbonate of soda, rinse in lightly acidulated water and then rinse in cold water. Not a trace will be left and no need to parboil.
Thanks! This seems to imply that the acidulated water will react with the baking soda. Does this also imply that adding e.g. 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda to a marinade containing an acid (e.g. vinegar, shaohsing rice wine, lemon juice) will not be effective as a tenderizer?
Good question! I wouldn’t add baking soda to an existing marinade, but not necessarily for that reason. When I use this method to tenderize meats, I will then rinse off the baking soda completely. If you do not, when you add other liquids and start to cook it, the baking soda will react and you will get an interesting ‘foamy’ reaction that is not pleasant at all! So, I would say that if you have a marinade that you are not planning on fully rinsing your meat, do not add baking soda. 🙂
This is amazing!!!!!
Hi there from South Africa, not sure why some of your readers do not understand the recipe, perfectly clear to me. We have used this method and it works, not sure what cut of meat tri tip is, but we use silverside, topside, chuck, flank, brisket etc, all the cheaper cuts. Another tenderising method is the use of soy sauce and worcesteshire sauce.
Is it ok to leave the meat uncooked and marinating for hours after the velveting process? Just curious if this will ruin the meat in any way
I generally will marinade the meat after velveting. As always, make sure you get all the baking soda off of the meat. As soon as you add soy sauce, if there is still baking soda, it will fizzle (not dangerous but annoying).
What is Tri – Tip?
It’s a cut of beef: “The tri-tip is a triangular cut of beef from the bottom sirloin subprimal cut, consisting of the tensor fasciae latae muscle. Untrimmed, the tri-tip weighs around 5 pounds.”
I generally just use the baking soda and no water except for a quick rinse after and have not noticed any residual baking soda taste. And yes, still tender, moist and delicious.