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A few ways to help tenderize a steak that I can think of:

Salt. Use a liberal amount and let the steak sit in the fridge for several hours. Excepting the papain enzyme written about above which I have no knowledge of, salt is one of the few things that can penetrate meat (fish, chicken (not through the skin), and others). Salting makes minor changes in the protein structure which has the effect of tenderizing.

Acid - I've always found my marinated flanks are more tender than without the marinade, but that could also be the salt. I suspect acid does have some involvement though have not confirmed scientifically.

The Cut - Take flank steak for example. Making sure to cut it against the grain in small strips will produce a far, far more tender cut than cutting with the grain. When using flank steak in a stir fry, I'll cut with the grain to get it into 2 inch strips and then cut against the grain into 1/4" thick strips x 2" long. This helps tremendously. Freezing the meat for about 30 minutes before you cut it makes the knife work a lot easier.

In short, use a lot of salt and acid and cut the steak correctly!

A.J.
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