I’ve heard my father say that papaya leaves are natural meat tenderizers. I tried it once, it didn’t work and I never tried again. I never was able to find out if it was just a myth or whether I didn’t pound the leaves sufficiently to extract the juices. At any rate, I really didn’t see any reason to use meat tenderizers so long as I chose my meat with care. But there was a discussion recently about adding baking soda to meat to tenderize it. It’s something I’ve heard and read before but never tried until a few days ago. And it really works.
I haven’t as yet determined the correct proportions (if there is such a thing) as in how many teaspoonfuls of baking soda for half a kilo of meat. I’ll get to that eventually but here are some of my initial assessments:
1. Cut the meat (beef, in my case) into the desired size first. If you intend to use the meat to make a stir fry, for instance, cut across the grain into strips. Why not cut later? Because after treating it with the baking soda solution, the meat will be so tender it might break apart during cutting. So, just to be on the safe side, cut the meat first.
2. If the meat is wet (usual if the meat was frozen and thawed), just sprinkle the baking soda and work it into the meat with your hands.
3. If the meat is dry (the normal condition if it has never been in the freezer), make a paste by mixing baking soda and a little water together. Add the paste to the meat, mix and massage well.
4. Place the meat in a covered container and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
I tell you, this little trick with baking soda works wonders.