There are times that I get a very good soft and tender beef. And there are times that I am not.
One day, I cooked a beef dish that includes marinade. I thought that should be working very well as I used clear soda and Calamansi (Philippine’s native lemon). I was used to cooking not-so-thin slices of beef in between 30-45 minutes, so I thought I cooked it perfectly. I was wrong. My sister and my brother told me “Hey, this beef is not tender enough – it’s tough.” And in order not to feel upset, I just said “Really? Ha! So you will do the jaw exercise.” I never told them, but I was very upset. I started cooking long years back and never thought or searched how to tenderize beef… and here I am, sharing with you what I found out:
There are many things that could be used to tenderize beef – commercial powders, sodas or something with acid content, coffee & tea, buttermilk and yogurt, and even natural tenderizers.
Okay, let’s do them one by one:
Commercial Powders: they can be bought in small (or maybe even big) bottles which are labeled ‘meat tenderizer’. They contain enzymes that help break down the tougher fibers of the beef. They are often produced from pineapple and papaya extracts. This can be used in marinade or just by rubbing the beef and let the powder stay for few hours.
Sodas or Something with Acid Content: Soda is one of the basic things I use when I marinate beef – Sprite or 7-Up to be specific. Along with soda, I also use citrus like Calamansi or Lemon. Aside from they help in softening the muscle fiber, they also add delicious flavor as well.
Coffee or Tea: Okay, this is the second that I have encountered this. There was one recipe I found that uses coffee as a rub or a marinade (I could hardly remember). Coffee is a natural tenderizer as well as Tea. Tea contains Tannins which are considered as natural tenderizes, too. You can do this by boiling a cup or two of either of them and marinate for as long as 24 hours inside the fridge and you are ready to fire up the grill.
Buttermilk & Yogurt: Not only these two contain some acidity, but the calcium content makes the enzymes activated which helps break down proteins.
Fruits: Figs, Papayas, Pineapples and Kiwis – they are considered to have papain, an enzyme used in making commercial tenderizers. Like acids and salt, the enzyme breaks down tough muscle fibers. You may cut the fruits or mash them and put the beef between them and let sit in the fridge for several hours. And then again, you are ready to grill them. Also, Ginger is a good tenderizer as well.
Baking soda: This also contains acid. Sprinkle baking soda all over, rub and the let sit in the fridge for several hours. Rinse the beef well before cooking.
Pounding: It is said that tougher cuts of beef can be tenderized by pounding them as it breaks muscle tissues. This is good when grilling or cutting beef for stir-fry dishes. (Hmm, I think I should get myself that meat mallet. Haha!)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Marinating beef with acid content should not take more than two hours as it will give you a tougher beef. Just in case you’d want to marinate your beef more than that, add a small amount of oil to keep the beef moist and to prevent it from being tough. Also, glass dishes are preferable to use when using strong acid base marinade.
Of course, it not only depends on the marinades or rubs, but also, you need not to undercook or overcook your beef. 😉
Do you have any more tips regarding tenderizing beef? Please leave your comments below. 🙂