Why Skirt Beef is Best for Stir Frying (Updated)!

How often have you drooled at the thought of a beef stir fry and then been disappointed with your results? Just because it’s “steak” doesn’t mean it’s good for stir frying!  In my cooking class, I’m often asked what’s the best cut of beef for stir frying.

The secret to getting your beef tender and tasty and even better than what you get in restaurants is to use skirt steak with loads of marbling i.e. fat and a few other tricks which I’ll share with you! Skirt steak only needs to be “shown the pan” before being flipped, so it’s fast and perfect for busy weeknights, done in under 30 minutes!


Other cheap cuts you’ll read about that are supposedly good for stir frying are flank or flap steak but I’ve tried both and found them tough and chewy, nah.  Any meat that’s for stewing like rump, chuck, round, blade or even sirloin will have the same problem, they are not meant to be sliced and stir fried.

The two exceptions are beef tenderloin tips or filet mignon which will break the bank but if you want to impress friends for a special dinner, you’ll get the results you want.

I looked up a few skirt beef stir fry recipes researching for this post and was appalled many well known food/cooking magazines and sites don’t have the basic marinade, stir fry technique down nor did they use the correct pan or heat! Some commenters blamed slimy cornstarch!  Cornstarch is ESSENTIAL to get your marinade binding to the beef and also gives your beef a crispy exterior and juicy interior. The reason their cornstarch was slimy was because they didn’t use high enough heat, so the cornstarch didn’t cook properly.

No wonder folks are constantly complaining about their stir frys.  It’s not you, it may be the following: cut of beef is incorrect, insufficient heat, wrong stir fry technique, wrong pan, incorrect marinade.

Once you understand these simple tips, you’ll succeed not only with your skirt beef stir fry but with any meat stir fry!

Thinly slice beef so it’ll cook really fast and be tender.

Marinading your skirt beef correctly is important so it won’t turn chewy!  Since I don’t teach cooking using recipes or measuring, my caddy with dispensers for seasonings make it very handy for marinading meat and making sauces. It’s just a squirt, squeeze and shake, so easy!

Don’t overcrowd the pan, lay the beef out in one layer. Do several batches, otherwise, when the heat lowers, you’ll get juice coming out and will become chewy, trust me, it does!

Stir fry extra skirt beef so you can bring for lunch the next day, your colleagues will envy you. Have it cold with salad and curry quinoa.

Crispy, crunchy and colorful veggies to complement your skirt steak.   I had broccolini and snow peas, you can use whatever veggies you have and stir fry them. Same concept, don’t overcrowd the pan, it’ll lower temperature in the wok, juice comes out and then you’ll get soupy, limp veggies. This is the biggest complaint I hear.

Fry in batches, do not throw all the beef into the wok, you’ll lower the temperature of your wok and the beef will start stewing in juice!  Keep the first batch of beef under cover.

Use right wok and efficient heat for a stir fry.  If you don’t have a traditional lightweight cast iron wok  and gas stove setup and you have an electric stove,  the best alternative is a stainless steel pan or even pot.  You’ll need a lot more oil so the beef or veggies don’t stick to the pan.

Apart from the right wok and heat, there are 2 other essential ELEMENTS which will help you succeed in your stir fry endeavors, you can find out more here!

NOTE: Do NOT use nonstick pans, they are not safe for high heat cooking and you will never get your meat to sear and end up stewing your beef. Check Dupont, the manufacturer for their warnings here.)

Kimchi or pickles are a good source of probiotics which help with digestion and healthy gut, so I’ve been trying to include some in every meal! My easy kimchi adds a nice spicy oompf to any dish!  



Easy steps which will guarantee your success…

1 slab skirt beef steak
TSPC (San-J tamari, medium sherry, white pepper and cornstarch)
grapeseed oil, the best oil for high heat stir frying

2 cloves garlic thwacked, no need to dice
4 slices fresh ginger, shredded
2 scallions

green chilli chopped (optional)

handful of broccolini, blanched, instructions here
handful of snow peas

1. Prep all your aromatics and leave on chopping board: garlic, ginger, scallions, chilli

2. Slice the slab of skirt beef ACROSS the grain into medium thin slices. If you have a large slab, use half for a stir fry and keep the other half intact and grill it with a dry spice rub.

3. Marinade the beef using TSPC.  You only need to marinade right before the stir fry, the longer you leave in marinade, it ends up goopy.

4. Fry your veggies first, this will save you a clean up step. Crank your wok or pan to high heat (medium if using coconut oil) add 3 swirls of oil, add half of garlic and ginger. I stir fry my blanched broccolini and snow peas separately, keep flipping them. Test taste both veggies to see if they’re the texture you like, add dash of tamari and sherry and set them aside on plate, cover to keep warm.

5. Start with a clean wok, either wipe out wok or wash if any caramelized bits left from tamari. Crank wok to high heat (use medium heat if using coconut oil) add 4 swirls of oil, add rest of garlic and ginger. Spread beef in one layer to just up the sides a little, not all the way up the wok as there’s not enough heat. Immediately start flipping the beef, add in scallions and as soon as you don’t see red, beef is done!  I personally like it a little rare, so just as they’re turning from red, I flip them out of the wok.

Try skirt beef and tell me it’s not the best, the most tender beef you’ve ever had?

How about a skirt beef tomato stir fry!  My mom used to make this for us when she was in a hurry but turns out to be one of our favorite dish, the tomatoes make it so sweet and colorful.


One Response to Why Skirt Beef is Best for Stir Frying (Updated)!
  1. Jennifer Mitchell
    January 11, 2019 | 5:36 pm

    So, what do you recommend for marinating the beef in order to make it tender? Recipe please!

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