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When Working With a Wok, Keep Your Proteins Thin

Chef Eric Silverstein implores you to cut your proteins thin to ensure delicious, tender bites of meat throughout your dish.

By George Steckel
Mar 16, 2022
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Cooking with a Wok happens in an instant, so, being intentional about your ingredients and how they’re prepared couldn’t be more important. This is especially true when it comes to proteins.

“You have to make sure your steak (or whatever protein you’re using) is cut really thin,” Chef Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla insists. Not only will this help add flavor when marinating (marinade penetrates thinner cuts quicker), but it will also help everything cook evenly.

If you haven’t been preparing your stir-fry this way, it’s not too late to start now. Trust us, once you try this technique, you’ll never go back to your old ways.

Freeze Before You Slice

“I like to freeze my meat before cutting it,” Chef Silverstein says. Freezing your meat for 30 minutes makes it much easier to cut into super thin strips. Because you need to cut them super thin, you need a really sharp knife as well. We recommend our Chef Knife for this task.

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Use a Marinade

Marinating your meat for at least 30 minutes adds flavor. However, we recommend doing this after freezing and slicing because it will fully coat your meat, instead of just marinating the outside.

The key to good marinades is building levels of flavor. In addition to using oil, something salty, an acid, and something herbaceous,  Chef Silverstein recommends  another ingredient: baking soda (about a teaspoon of it per pound of meat).

“Baking soda helps tenderize your meat,” Chef Silverstein says, which means you actually don’t need to splurge on the fanciest cut. In fact, anything like flank steak or sirloin will come out delicious and tender thanks to cutting it thin and adding a delicious marinade.

Cook The Protein First

Most of the meat's  flavor will come from the char, or Maillard Reaction. To achieve this, you need to cook it in your Wok before adding any other ingredients. Otherwise, your Wok simply won’t be hot enough to achieve it.

“Make sure your meat is as close to room temp as possible so it’ll cook faster and it won’t lower the Wok’s heat.” Chef Silverstein also recommends “cooking in waves” or batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. This ensures that each piece of steak gets its moment in the sun, allowing it to get appropriately crispy. If you have a lot of meat, don’t throw it all in at once.

Bring It All Together

After removing your cooked proteins from the Wok, it is time to add the rest of your ingredients, including your vegetables. Work intentionally, adding vegetables that will take longer to cook first, such as broccoli and carrots, then work your way to your smaller vegetables, such as peas and onions/

Next, add your noodles or rice, and then add your cooked proteins back in, and pour in any sauce, if you’re using it before tossing everything together one last time.

Now that you know the trick to thinly sliced protein, try Chef Silverstein’s method the next time you’re making stir fry. You will be surprised at how quick and delicious the outcome is.

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