Beef is by far a less common form of meat in Chinese food than pork. Hence when Chinese mention meat, they mean pork. Beef is more common in Szechuan cuisine than it is in other Chinese cuisines, perhaps due to the widespread use of oxen in the region. Stir-fried beef is often cooked until chewy, while steamed beef is sometimes coated with cornstarch to produce a rich gravy.
The main reason that the Chinese do not eat much beef is probably that it is not as versatile a meat as pork from the point of view of Chinese cooking. For example, beef meat balls will never be as tender as pork. While for most of Chinese recipes, pork will make reasonably good dishes with beef, they do not make such easily successful dishes with beef as with pork. However, some recipes are especially good for beef or are better with beef than with pork and are therefore primarily a beef recipe. You can always use your own judgment about interchanging the recipes between beef and pork.
You know of course that pork should be cooked thoroughly, while beef can be eaten rare. This compensates in part for the tougher texture of beef than pork. But then beef when too rare will not taste Chinese.
The Chinese usually use tenderloin or sirloin for beef slices and shreds in stir fry dishes. For stewing, shin and shank meat in whole pieces or in large cubes are usually used. The Chinese do not use other big pieces of meat because it has longer tissues and they stiffen more when stewing and come out less tender.
Meat shreds, cubes etc should be dried well (if not marinated) before they are put in a hot wok. This enables the pore of the meat to seal when they come in contact with heat. By preparing meat this manner, there will be very little loss of moisture and it will stay juicy.
See cuts of beef and lamb >>