Silky Soft and Tender Meat in Chinese Food
Texture is highly prized in Chinese cooking, especially when it comes to proteins. The meat—especially chicken, pork, or beef—are always cooked to a silky smooth mouthfeel that is succulent and tender—with a glossy sheen.
Traditionally, velveting is a technique used in Chinese restaurants and home kitchens for tenderizing meat. Meats are cut into uniform pieces, coated with an egg white and starch mixture, and then cooked to the desired satiny consistency.
Baking Soda is a Meat Tenderizer
A few years ago, I learn a quick tip from a Chinese chef, who uses baking soda as the secret ingredient in his restaurant. He taught me how to use baking soda as a meat tenderizer. Since then, I have been producing the most amazing, tender, soft and juicy stir-fried meats at home.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline agent at pH8.2. As such, baking soda is a magic meat tenderizer powder as it neutralizes the acids and breaks down the proteins in the meat and therefore makes a superb tenderizer. Another plus, it also acts as a deodorizer to rid the meat of any potential foul smell it might have.
How to Use Meat Tenderizer?
If you are skeptical about using baking soda in home cooking, please don’t because it’s an essential ingredient in baking.
I use baking soda as a seasoning, marinade or dry rub that you can rinse and wash off before cooking. Of course, this meat tenderizing process is optional, so it’s up to you. However, if you want to impress your family or guests with perfectly tender, smooth, and succulent meat, here is how you can do it.
How to Make Meat Tender
Baking soda or meat tenderizer is best used for chicken breast as the breast meat is usually dry, coarse, and chewy. It also works with beef and pork.
If you already have a tender cut of beef, it is not necessary to tenderize the beef unless you want the texture to be silky smooth like the ones served at Chinese restaurants.
- Cut or slice the chicken breast to the desired shape or per the recipe instruction. Make sure it’s cut or sliced into uniform pieces.
- Mix the baking soda with the chicken. Make sure the chicken breast is evenly coated with the baking soda. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Place the chicken in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold running water. Rinse a few times if desired. Pat dry with paper towels. The chicken is now ready for the marinade or preparation called for in the recipe.