Cook thin-sliced meats very quickly to keep them tender.

How to Cook Very Thin Meat Slices for Chinese Food

by Brynne Chandler

While the thought of making Chinese food yourself might seem intimidating, it's really not that difficult, even if your idea of exotic cooking is putting mushrooms in your meatloaf. The trick to perfectly tender meat is to cook it very fast over high heat. Don’t worry if you don’t have a wok – a skillet doesn’t hold heat quite as well, but will still work.

Heat your wok or skillet over high heat for 30 to 45 seconds if you’re using a gas stove, and for 45 seconds to 1 minute if you have electric burners that take time to reach their full heat.

Coat the bottom of the wok or skillet with a thin layer of oil. Canola oil and vegetable oil work well for stir-frying, as does peanut oil. Add a tiny amount of sesame oil for flavor, if you like.

Pat your slices of meat dry with paper towels while the oil is heating. This ensures that the meat browns instead of steaming.

Add the meat to the hot oil in small batches, being careful that the oil doesn’t splatter you. Season the meat with soy sauce, Chinese 5-Spice or your own mixture of ginger, mustard, chili paste -- or whatever flavorings you prefer.

Cook each batch for about 30 seconds, and then turn or stir it with tongs or a wooden spoon to cook the other side. The meat is done when the pinkness disappears.

Remove each batch from the wok to a warm platter as soon as it is done. If you're making a stir-fry and cooking vegetables in the same wok or skillet, return the meat to the wok once the vegetables are cooked and your sauce thickened. Do not reheat the meat too long or it will toughen.

Items you will need

  • Oil
  • Paper towels
  • Seasonings
  • Tongs or wooden spoon
  • Platter


  • Marinate your meat in a mixture of sesame oil, soy sauce and Chinese 5-Spice for 60 minutes before stir-frying to add flavor.
  • When cutting your meat into thin slices, always cut against the grain because when you do this, you shorten the muscle fibers, tenderizing the meat. If you cut in the same direction as the grain, your meat will be tough.

About the Author

Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images