Sunday, February 20, 2011

what beef cut to use for kosher Chinese stir fry?

Thank you to Denise for this great question.  She wonders;

"what type of meat do the kosher chinese restaurants use that makes their stir fries so tender. Pepper steak is always chewier than what Ive eaten.
Is the meat tender because they tenderize it with MSG? Love to hear your thoughts."

Pepper steak is a cut that has alot of connective tissue in it which results in a tough piece of meat.

"I learned from a Chinese chef to use the 'flat iron' aka 'London broil'."  Eran answers.
(Now remember that London broil is a term that describes a cooking method.  It is not a specified cut, like a rib steak.  It can be taken from different parts of the animal, although it generally refers to a lean, tougher cut, marinated, then grilled or broiled, and sliced thinly across the grain -n.w.)

So what's a flat iron? 

The flat iron is from the top blade, which is off the shoulder.

This is a picture of a boneless shoulder.  The top blade is the piece on the right.
Normally this muscle is cross-cut into blade steaks. However, these steaks are tough and full of connective tissues (gristle). Instead, Flat Irons are cut from the two layers of the top blade and have all of that connective tissue removed. When sliced thin, on the bias, incredible marbling is apparent.
Shown after removing the outer connective tissue and fat layer.
Removing the inner connective tissue.
Ok.  That's enough information about the cut of meat we recommend.
Next to the technique (which is just as important).  Marinate your strips of meat in soya sauce and cornstarch overnight.  Remove from the marinade and pat dry.  Poach the meat quickly (2 minutes) in simmering chicken stock and then use in your stir fry.
It may seem like extra work, but the results definitely make it worthwhile.

*with thanks to the blog, Confessions of a Butcher, for the pictures.


  1. As a wholesale kosher butcher, I can tell you that the flat iron is a great, if not pricey, cut for stir fry. There are other cuts that my retail division,, uses to produce a wonderful and less expensive pepper steak. The biggest secret of the chinese resteraunts? Marinate in (inexpensive) white wine overnight.

  2. There are many ways to tenderise meat especially in Chinese Stir fry. MSG is no good and not necessary.
    1. Marinate overnight and keep it in the fridge.
    2. before putting any sauces or do anything to the meat, use the back of your knife (the non sharp end) to tender it. The action is similar to hammer it. This is loosen the tissue.
    3. Get the right cut ! Anything not too lean and def'ly not flank/ brisket (stew meat)

    and of coz cook it in the right heat and quick (dun over cook)