Why Flank Steak Is Always Ideal For A Stir-Fry Dish

Stir-frying is one of the best ways to produce a satisfying meal in minutes, and nothing makes a stir-fry feel special like a little steak. But stir-fries are also meant to be economical and easy, which rules out most of the best, but far-too-expensive cuts of steak. The best meats for stir-frying are flavorful, affordable, and work well in a quick, high-heat cooking environment. Unfortunately, that last qualification rules out a lot of cheap beef cuts like sirloin or brisket, which need long, slow cooks to help make them tender. That leaves only a few options that can hit that perfect stir-fry trio, but thankfully one is the widely available and popular flank steak.

Flank steak is not quite as cheap as it used to be, as consumers have caught on to how tasty a cut of beef it is, but it's still affordable. Flank steak, like shirt steak, comes from an area of the cow that gets a lot of work, so it develops an intensely beefy flavor. This also means flank steak is a very lean cut, making it ideal for quick sear methods like stir-frying that won't dry out the interior. While flank steak's muscle fibers can make it tough, some simple preparation tips make that an easy obstacle to overcome.

Flank steak is a flavorful, affordable cut that does well with high heat

The muscle fibers in flank steak run lengthwise down the cut, with a loose texture you can see when you tug on slices of the meat. To minimize the impact of those fibers and make flank steak much more tender follow these few rules. Firstly, make sure you cut the steak against the grain. By slicing your steak across the fibers instead of parallel to them, you cut them short, minimizing the impact on texture. In the case of stir-fry, this is something you'll want to do when prepping your steak before cooking since it will be going in the pan in small pieces.

The second big thing is marinating. Flank steak's loose grain means it absorbs liquids very well, which will bring tons of flavor to your stir-fry. But marinades also work as tenderizing agents. Salt and soy sauce can break down the fibers that will make your steak tough as the meat sits in the marinade. You can also add ingredients like cornstarch or a small amount of baking soda, which aids in tenderization and protects the meat from being too quickly overcooked in a high-heat environment. Do those few things and flank steak will work even better in all your favorite stir-fry recipes than steaks twice its price.