The native guide; All about unique JapanHow Do The Japanese Make Tough Meat Tender At Home
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How Do The Japanese Make Tough Meat Tender At Home; 3 Marinade Sauce Brings Best Results In My Life

how do the japanese make though meat tender at homeFood & Drinks
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There are many ways to tenderize meat worldwide. So we do. The Japanese have many techniques to tenderize tough meat to make them juicy, moist, and tasty when we buy meat at discount sales!

Simply, we use sugar and coke to tenderize meat as you know.

So, I pick up some of the unique meat tenderizers that I often do at home.

With Baking Powder

marinate meat with baking powder

  • Use baking powder solution
  • The ratio per 1 liter of water is 2 tbsp baking powder: 1 tbsp salt
  • Marinate meat for at least 4 hours or overnight

Do you know baking powder can tenderize meat?
Technically, baking soda in baking powder has the function to tenderize meat. Baking soda breaks down the meat protein in the meat and tenders it.

You can use baking soda, yet, I recommend use Baking powder instead.

I have tried to tenderize meat with “baking soda solution” a couple of times, but I didn’t like the meat influenced by the bitter taste of baking soda.

One time, I tried “BAKING POWDER solution” instead of baking soda, I found that baking soda solution can tenderize meat without the flavor transformed.

Especially for poultry, you can’t imagine how it will be tender and moist even after cooking.

My hubby doesn’t eat grilled chicken breast much but he can eat it tenderized with baking soda solution.

Go to get baking soda, and marinate meat for at least 4 hours or overnight.

The ratio for the solution is,

Water : Baking Powder : Salt = 1 Litter (4.2 us cup) : 2 tbsp : 1 tbsp

This is the guide, I usually use this solution for 4-5 chicken thighs, 6-8 chicken drum sticks, 3-4 pork chops. You may need double or more for a whole chicken.

You don’t really have to follow this ratio exactly every litter, it is OK to add just water to cover up the meat when the solution is less than expected.
I am not a neat person, so I just add water if the meat isn’t be covered.

Also, be careful the amount of salt when using “sea salt” or “natural mineral salt such as Himalayan pink salt”. Reduce the amount of salt a little bit because compared with regular salt, they have a strong salty taste.

baking powder and salt

The salt and baking powder hardly are dissolved in the water so I use boiled water first, then add cold water.

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

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.


Tenderize meat with baking powder

How to tenderize meat with baking powder dissolved water


  • 1 litter water
  • 2 tbsp baking POWDER
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • hot water for dissolving salt


  • Dissolve salt in the hot water first.
  • Soak the meat in the solution for at least 4 hours. (for overnight is preferred)
  • Remove the meat on kitchen towels. Wipe off excess moisture.
  • *Rince the meat if desired.
Keywordbaking powder, baking soda, marinade, tenderize

With Sio-Koji

shio koji

“Shio Koji” (塩糀) = “Koji Rice” is a fermented condiment from Japan.

The tenderizing effect of “Koji” is so powerful, the meat is going to be not only tender but also enhanced “Umami-the savory flavor”.

Moreover, it doesn’t take much time to tenderize meat, you need at least 30 minutes to marinate meat.

I always marinate pork chops with shio koji and freeze them.

When making Japanese pork cutlets (the recipe is here) with them, the quality will be much better.

I am very obsessed with making homemade “Shio Koji” because it is always successful to tenderize meat. (especially pork.)

Shio koji gets easily burned, so keep your eye on the meat while grilling.

Although I am obsessed with Shio Koji, you may not like a unique “Koji” flavor, so wipe off or rinse lightly if desired.

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

With Japanese-style BBQ Sauce

I have tried several hacks to tenderize meat by marinating with grated onions, pineapples, apple juice, pears, honey, sugar, Japanese sake…

So, I combined some of the ingredients, make homemade Japanese BBQ sauce.

(It may be Korean-style based Japanese-style BBQ sauce…)

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

Marinating overnight will probably be alright, but soy sauce can work negatively.

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

Of course, this will be a good dipping sauce for grilled meat and also as a dressing for salad.

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 most 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.

Frozen Meat Hacks In Japanese Home Cooking

Now, I can introduce the best ways to freeze meat with those meat tenderizers.

Chicken Breasts, Turkey Breasts

  1. Pierce breasts with forks as much as you can.
  2. Rub breast with 1 tsp sugar for each side.
  3. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, 1 tsp sake or white wine, and rub thoroughly.
  4. Wrap each with plastic wrap, put it in a freezer bag.

When chicken is ready, make Japanese “Karaage” chicken surprise your guest.

Chicken Thighs, Breasts, Pork

  1. Make the “baking powder” solution
  2. Set a freezer bag in a bowl, put the meat in it.
  3. Pour the solution until the meat is covered.
  4. Keep the bag in the bawl even in the freezer until the meat and solution are frozen. Or lay filled bags flat in the freezer

Pork Chops, Chicken breasts

Apply shio koji. For meat, the volume to use is 10% of the weight of the meat.

Thin Sliced Beef & Pork (chicken), Pork Chops

  1. Make the Japanese BBQ sauce.
  2. Slice Beefsteak, marinate with the sauce.
  3. Marinate Pork chops.
  4. Before cook sliced beef or pork, add 1 tsp of potato starch (or corn starch) and massage the meat on the bag. (Not necessary for pork chops.)

Just thaw it and be ready to grill!

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  1. Luz Urrutia says:

    The article with the baking powder solution was confusing. There are paragraphs that seem to contradict themselves.. then the ratio was also confusing. The recipe seems ok. Will have to try.

  2. James says:

    Thank you, very good advice!

  3. Lori says:

    I bought an eye of round roast because it was on sale and very cheap. I’m concerned about it coming out tough. I’m going to try your meat tenderizer solution and see how it comes out! The Japanese are masters at making meats so delightful… I am excited to try this method out.

    • Rico McConnellRico McConnell says:

      Hi, Lori
      I am very glad to hear it! Hoping It’ll be successful!
      I normally use those three tenderize hacks but I’ll update the post if I find other ways in Japanese cooking!

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