Some days it is raining out or maybe you just don’t feel like firing up the grill. I get it. But just because you aren’t grilling doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a great steak dinner! One great way to enjoy a steak cooked inside is as a stir fry.
Creating a stir fry can be a delicious meal, assuming you choose the right cut of beef. Whether you’re making an Asian stir fry, a Mongolian one, or something you’ve just decided to throw together at the last minute, the cut of beef matters.
The best steak for stir fry can vary depending on how much money you want to spend and the amount of time you want to spend prepping the meat. Four great options are:
Let’s look at each of these steaks a little closer and also get some tips on how to make an amazing beef stir fry.
The sirloin cut is right at the top of the cow’s back. It’s considered a relatively affordable cut of beef with a balance of flavor and tenderness.
When it comes to steak for stir fry, it’s a popular one. The preparation is simple because there’s usually no bone to work around, and there is very little fat content.
The basic steps for getting sirloin steak ready for a stir fry include cutting away visible fat from the edges and getting the meat into a marinade.
The rump steak is taken from the hindquarter of the cow, right above the hip bone. Rump is usually cheaper than sirloin steak, though it depends on the grading.
One of the benefits of using rump steak is that it is extremely tender, even without marinating. This means that if you’re short on time and want to create a stir fry, rump is going to be your best option.
The rump is usually a fairly round cut of meat, so you will need to do a bit more cutting before it is ready to be cooked. Cut the meat into strips, then into smaller pieces. Avoid slicing it until it’s ready to cook so you don’t have to worry about oxidation and discoloration.
Skirt steak is cut from low on the cow, along the plate. It is long and flat, making it easy to cut into strips for a stir fry. It is popular because of the flavor as opposed to the tenderness.
The skirt steak is the most common cut used for a beef stir fry. It’s a cheap cut, and the thin pieces of beef cook quickly, so you don’t have to worry about the meat spending a lot of time in the pan.
To achieve more tenderness, the meat should have at least some time in a marinade. There’s quite a bit of muscle, which can lead to a chewy texture if it isn’t tenderized properly. If you don’t have time for it to sit in a marinade for a few hours, consider using a tenderizer on the meat first.
The flank steak is cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow, directly next to the skirt steak. The main difference is that flank steak will be thicker and wider than skirt steak.
Flank steak won’t need to be marinated very long because it doesn’t have a lot of tough muscle as skirt steak does. However, there’s not a lot of flavor in flank steak naturally. As such, choosing a flavorful marinade is critical to the success of your stir fry when you work with flank.
Flank steak is one of the cheaper cuts of meat that you can buy to make a stir fry. Assuming you have the time to work with it, it can be a great option.
Tips to Make an Amazing Stir Fry
When you want to make an amazing stir fry, there are quite a few things to consider. It goes beyond finding the best steak for stir fry, too.
Consider the flavors. There are all sorts of different flavor profiles that you can choose. You can opt for something spicy, nutty, garlicky, or even citrusy.
Choose ingredients carefully. Take the time to choose fresh ingredients. Use some within the marinade and others within the actual stir fry.
Use the right equipment. A wok will provide you with a great way to cook the beef. Ideally, the wok should be smoking hot, and the meat should be a few degrees colder than room temperature.
Know the cooking order. As tempting as it might be to throw all of the ingredients together, cook the meat first and, then, cook the vegetables. Toss everything together at the end before serving.
How to Cut Beef for Stir-Fry
The way that you cut the beef matters. If you cut it incorrectly, your beef can be fatty, chewy, and cook inconsistently.
First, trim away any extra white muscle membranes. Then, cut the steak against the grain. Look for the long strands of muscle within the beef. Cutting against those “grains” will help to create more tender pieces of beef.
Ideally, you should cut the beef lengthwise into strips that measure 2 to 2 ½ inches. From there, you can choose to cut the beef even smaller so that it is bite-sized.
If you have frozen the meat, allow it to defrost partially. It’s easier to cut the meat when it’s still partially frozen. The meat will stay together, and you won’t have to worry about the knife slipping.
How to Make Sure the Steak is Tender
Tenderness is highly desirable in any kind of steak, regardless of how you decide to cook it. The tenderness is what allows you to chew the meat with ease. If you find that the steak isn’t practically melting in your mouth, there’s a problem.
So, how do you achieve tenderness?
It starts with finding the right cut of beef. When you find a piece of beef that has more muscle, it’s going to be tougher. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be turned into a tender piece of meat, though.
Tenderizing beef (such as with a fork or a meat mallet) will help to break down the connective tissue so that the marinade is more easily absorbed. It will make the steak tastier and add to the overall tenderness.
Marinating the beef can also help to break down some of the muscle before it is cooked.
Cooking the beef properly is important, too. Often, the longer you stir fry meat, the tougher it will become. When beef goes into a wok with hot oil, it usually only takes three to four minutes for it to cook until browned.
How to Marinate Beef for Stir-Fry
Marinating the beef for a stir fry isn’t a must, but it does offer quite a few benefits. First, it will infuse a significant amount of flavor. Second, it will help to break down some of the sinewy texture of the beef so that it isn’t too chewy when you serve it.
What you choose to use for your marinade depends on the flavor profile you want to achieve.
There are a few different liquids that can help to tenderize tough protein:
– Lemon juice
– Lime juice
– Orange juice
– Vinegar (try rice vinegar)
As long as there is some form of acid, it will help to break down the proteins so you can achieve a tender piece of beef. Then, you can add in other flavors such as soy sauce, garlic, and seasonings.
Various store-bought sauces can be used, too. Some popular marinades for a beef stir-fry include teriyaki sauce and hoisin sauce.
Let the meat marinate for at least 30 minutes. Avoid letting the meat marinate for more than 24 hours as it can turn back into acid, rendering the meat useless.