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How Do The Japanese Make Tough Meat Tender At Home; Best Results In My Life [Baking Powder Brine|Shio-Koji |BBQ Sauce]

how do the japanese make though meat tender at home Food & Recipes
Food & Recipes

There are many tenderizing meat techniques worldwide and Japanese home cooking is not exceptional.

We have many techniques to tenderize tough meat to make them juicy, moist, and tasty when we buy meat at discount sales!

We don’t eat A5 wagyu beef every day!

And actually, domestic produce meat costs more than imported meat, and interestingly, chicken breast is much more reasonable than chicken thigh.
So, we need to know various tenderizing technics.

For example, we simply rub sugar on meat, or marinade or cook meat with Coke.

Today, I pick up the best unique meat tenderizing techniques that get the best results all the time.

Add The Baking Powder Into Salt Water

Do you know baking powder can tenderize meat?

To be precise, baking soda contained in baking powder works to tenderize the meat while breaking down the meat protein.

  • Use baking POWDER and salt, NOT baking SODA
  • The basic ratio for this secret brine is 2 tbsp of baking powder and 1 tbsp salt to 1 quart (1L) of water.
  • Brine meat for a minimum of 4 hours (for a small portion of sliced meat for stir-fry) overnight. (and more for a whole turkey!)

So Why Do I Use Baking Powder?

Simply put, based on the experience of using baking soda in this solution, I don’t like the unique (unpleasant) bitterness of baking soda transferred to the meat.

One time, I tried “BAKING POWDER” to make the solution instead of baking soda, it was successful.

You can keep the original meat flavor (even moist) and tenderize it without transferring the bitterness.

The Basic Ratio For My Secret Wet Brine

The basic ratio for my secret wet brine with baking powder,

Water : Baking Powder : Salt = 1 quart (1L) : 2 tbsp : 1 tbsp

And, you can use the basic ratio of up to 1.5lb meat.

What Is The Meat For 1.5lb?

As the guide, I usually use this amount of the solution for

  • 4-5 chicken thighs
  • 6-8 chicken drum sticks
  • 3-4 thin sliced pork chops
  • 2 thick pork chops
  • 2 turkey thighs

You can adjust the basic brine according to the weight of the meat you cook.

How about a whole turkey? Read this post.

I Am Not So Meticulous Ever…

Honestly, I am not so meticulous about the ratio to brine meat with the baking powder solution.

If I feel the meat weighs more than 1.5lb, I double the ratio.

Besides, I add water if it is not enough to cover the meat.

Only you should be careful about the amount of salt.

It is better to reduce salt when using natural mineral salt.

I use Himalayan pink salt so generally, I use 3/4 tbsp for the basic baking powder solution.

So, relax.

marinate meat with baking powder

Brine Meat With Baking Powder

Rico McConnellRico McConnell
LEARN HOW TO USE BAKING POWDER TO BRINE MEAT (NEVER GET SALTY)! Why baking powder can tenderize meat? Using baking powder can bring meat not only tender but also moist and juicy. It's the easy brine for chicken, turkey, pork, and maybe beef. (If you like meaty texture, I don't recommend brine beef steak🥩)Thankfully, I never have the terrible dry, tasteless, rubbery chicken (breast), turkey, and pork chops, since I use my secret brine with baking powder.


  • 1 quart water *As a guide
  • 2 tbsp baking POWDER
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • hot water for dissolving salt


  • Dissolve salt in the hot water.
  • Combine water, baking powder, and salt water.
  • Let the solution cool down if needed.
  • Brine the meat for 8-24 hours. Brine the meat for 8-24 hours. (You can brine a small portion or sliced meat for 4 hours)
  • Wipe off excess moisture with kitchen paper.
  • *Baking powder will not change the meat flavor like baking soda but you can rinse the meat if desired.
  • Watch my cooking video!


*Edited on January 2022.
©Japanmcconnell/Rico McConnell- Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
Keyword Beef, Chicken, Easy, marinade, meat, Pork, Tips & Hack

The Best Result You Can Feel About The Baking Powder Solution Is Poultry & Pork

This baking powder brine can be used for any common meat such as beef, pork, and poultry.

Especially when soaking poultry (chicken breast, chicken thighs, turkey breast, turkey thighs, whole chicken, and turkey ), you will be surprised how it will be tender and moist.

It’s like…you don’t need Sous vide cooker anymore!

Only once, when I cook a whole duck after soaking it in the solution, I didn’t get much result like other meat. I am going to try it again soon though.

Any cut pork also goes well with the baking powder brine.

Also, you may want to reduce brining time if you like the “meaty texture” in the meat.

This means it is not suitable for beef steak.

For example, I like tender pork ribs almost fallen apart from bones, but my husband prefers a more meaty texture.

Dissolve Salt With Boiled Water First

The salt hardly is dissolved in cold water so I use boiled water to dissolve it and then add ice to chill. Or, you can boil water and salt on a stovetop.

*Don’t put baking powder in the hot water, you will have to clean the mess.

Make sure the solution is not warm when brirnig the meat.

How Long You Should Marinate A Meat In The Baking Soda Solution

I recommend leaving the meat in the baking powder brine anytime between 8 hours to 24 hours for the regular size of meat.

I always start brine meat before night.

You can brine the meat for up to 48 hours, but don’t recommend leaving it more than it as the point of safety tips.

The minimal time is 4 hours for the small amount of meat or thin-sliced meat.

However, marinating them for 8 – 24 hours will better result.

Again, you can shorten the time if you like the texture of the meat.

Rinse Or Not?

When using a baking powder solution, it’ll be fine (the meat will not have a bitter flavor), but you can wipe off or rinse lightly if concerned.

However, rinsing raw meat can increase the risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen.

Learn How To Make The Baking Powder Brine In 5 MIN


“Shio Koji” is a traditional fermented condiment from Japan made of rice koji.

Despite shio koji sounds (looks) mysterious and funky to you, it has such a powerful tenderizing effect and also brings “Umami” (the savory flavor) to meat.

Shio koji breaks meat protein and the Amino acid contained in it can add rich Umami flavor.

In Japan, it is often used for cutting off the fishy taste as marinating.

Shio koji goes well with especially pork soI always freeze pork marinated with Koji rice.

Shio koji goes well, especially chicken and pork.

Also, you can freeze them after marinating them with shio koji.

For more details and how to make shio koji at home, please click here.

Have you ever had trouble the pork loin chop becomes dried and chewy?

Marinate chops with Shio koji!

For the same reason, make a Japanese pork cutlet with savory-sweet pork.

How Long You Should Marinate Meat With Koji Rice

Basically, use 10% Koji rice to the total meat weight.

Contrary to the baking powder solution, you don’t need the marinating time overnight.

Moreover, the meat will be salty when you do so depending on the size of the meat!

So, how long is the best marinating time?

Chicken (Thighs & Breasts)1 – 2 hours (up to 3 hours)
Whole Chicken2 hours – 3 hours (up to 5 hours)
Beef Steak60 min.
Beef Roast5 hours – 8 hours
Porkchop30 min. – 60 min.
Pork Roast5 hours – 8 hours
Fish60 min.
Thinly Slices Beef & Pork10 min. – 20 min.

Note that this is just a guide and you may need to adjust the marinating time depending on

  • Volume of meat
  • Meat cut
  • The type of Koji rice products

Should I Rince Meat After Marinating With Koji Rice?

What’s Taste Like Koji Rice?

The taste of Koji rice is often described as mild, sweet, and alcohol-like. If you have tasted Amazake in Japan, Koji rice is similar to it.

Anyway, I would say it is very unique, so you may need time to get used to it.

But, it doesn’t mean it is awful. Juuuuuust, Unique.

Reduce The Amount, Remove Koji Rice

You may not like its unique flavor, so you can reduce the amount of Koji rice and also remove it or rinse the meat lightly if desired.

Moreover, the sugar contained in Koji rice is easy to burn while cooking so it is better to remove it for grilling and baking.

Where To Get Shio Koji

You can get “Shiokoji” on Amazon or you can make it at home.

Here is the Shio koji guide to know how to use and make it.

Rico’s Homemade Japanese BBQ Sauce

I came to this idea-marinating with BBQ sauce is from the cooking tip about marinating the meat with grated onions, pineapples, apple juice, pears, honey, sugar, Japanese sake, etc. to make the meat tender.

Japanese BBQ sauce contains most key ingredients, why not make homemade Yakiniku no tare (Japanese BBQ sauce) in my recipe here.

How does the BBQ sauce make the meat tender?

The enzymes in fruits, onions, Japanese sake (made of Koji), and soy sauce work to break down the meat protein as well as sugar and honey.

Also, toasted sesame oil in the sauce can keep the juice inside.

The best result is marinating meat on a grill for 2 hours, not shorter and longer.

Marinating overnight will probably be alright if you like the strong taste, but soy sauce can work negatively-salty and may let the meat dry.

It’s better to freeze marinated meat rather than leave them in a refrigerator overnight.

You don’t have time???

You can get Japanese-style BBQ sauce online if you don’t have time.

Ebara Ogon No Aji Fruit Base Yakiniku BBQ Sauce

“Ogon” means “Golden” in Japanese, and this BBQ sauce is the staple BBQ sauce for home Yakiniku in Japan.

In my memory, it was already there when I was a kid, it has been around since 1978. It is said medium spicy but has rich sweetness.

It can also be used for stir-fried dishes, so it’s useful as a seasoning.

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Sauce

Gyukaku is the most popular Yakiniku chain restaurant nationwide in Japan which serves delicious meat at a reasonable price and friendly service.

It’s strong soy sauce-based and has a hint of ginger.

Moderate sweetness and light taste.

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