The Reason You Actually Should Wash Meat For Stir-Fry

Eating an authentic stir-fry is a real feast with complex flavors and a range of unique textures. Think slightly soft vegetables that still possess firmness in their center, often with a slight caramelization along the edges. And meat that's so tender and moist it melts in your mouth.

When selecting meat for a stir-fry, anything from steak to chicken can be used. Some of the best cuts to use are flank steak, with its rich flavor and ability to get tender when cooked properly. Beef tenderloin is another excellent option with its juiciness and natural tenderness, while chicken breasts are a low-fat and nutritious option. 

Choosing a proper cut of meat isn't the only important consideration when cooking up a delicious stir-fry. How you cook it is equally vital. For example, never stir fry ice-cold meat, per The Spruce Eats, which will cool off the hottest of woks. (Having a very hot wok is crucial for cooking the stir-fry.) Also, don't cook the meat all at once; instead, break it up into small amounts to be cooked separately, according to The Spruce Eats. But before you even get to cooking the meat, you'll need to prep it.

Natural way to tenderize

The tender meat in your favorite Chinese restaurant's stir-fry probably wasn't bought at some special grocery store, but it was likely given a little extra TLC before cooking. 

To ensure tender meat, Chinese cooks wash it thoroughly. The meat is tenderized as they rinse the meat and wring it out (via Milk Street). J. Kenji López-Alt also explains to Milk Street that the best stir-fried meat will not only be soft but also has a "slippery texture". By thoroughly washing the meat, you are also helping its flavor meld better with the sauce and vegetables. The meat's flavor should not overpower the other stir-fry ingredients.

Before washing the meat, cooks will often add baking soda and water to cut beef and massage it to equally distribute the mixture (via The Woks of Life). Then, it can sit for about one to two hours before being rinsed. By massaging the meat with a blend of baking soda and water, Chinese restaurants can tenderize and hydrate the beef, creating the cornerstone for an unforgettable stir-fry. However, when it comes to making a chicken stir-fry, washing the chicken should be reconsidered. According to EatingWell, washing the chicken in the sink can spread sickness-inducing bacteria several feet in all directions.