After the mention of using baking soda up thread, I went looking around for more information on the effects. It raises the pH which cause the meat to brown more quickly. It seems to be a Chinese technique. It always seems to be used on thinly sliced meats and apparently acts as a tenderizer as well, with the caveat that letting is sit in the baking soda too long cause the meat to become mushy or otherwise develop an unpleasant texture.
There doesn't seem to be much hard and fast information though from the more scientific culinary type sites on the internet. I'm looking forward to trying some stir fries using the technique.
I'd be curious to hear the Quo Vadis take on things - she seems to have delved deeply into the arcane culinary arts of the Orient.
This has sure gotten off topic and seems like it might deserve it's own thread.