Happy Lunar New Year!
I don’t know about you, but whenver we get Chinese take out, we used to wonder, “what do they do to make the chicken SO tender?”
Well, I have cracked the code. It’s called velveting.
This is an older post of mine that I am re-visiting just in time for Lunar New Year. I hope you give this recipe a try.
So good.It’s the Year of the Tiger! Celebrate!
When Hunky Hubbie and I are feeling a bit lazy, our go to for take out, like most folks, is Asian Cuisine- Thai, Chinese or Vietnamese. We love the sauces, the veggies and the incredibly tender chicken. But whenever I tried to replicate a healthier version at home, my chicken would always be tough. To stir fry you need high heat and chicken can be unforgiving and get very tough, very quickly. A few years back I began researching what makes Chinese take out chicken so tender and juicy. It is a process called “velveting”.
You marinate diced chicken in a concoction of vinegar, egg white, corn starch and salt. I know- it sounds a bit bizarre. But wait- it gets worse!
Then you poach the chicken in boiling water until it is flabby and white, but cooked through. It looks truly horrible and the fist time I tried it, I thought, “Well, this is going to be the worst dinner ever.” I was wrong.
But… you then create your sauce, sauté up some beautiful veggies, add the sauce, chicken and tah dah! You, my dears, have the juiciest, most flavorful, tender, velvety chicken stir fry ever.
Look through my pictures first, so you’ll know you haven’t made a mistake. You are going to think you have cooked up a pot of pond scum- but that’s kind of what you want. Don’t worry- the yucky pond scum goes away down the drain. Just strain the chicken. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comment section. This recipe works beautifully with pork as well. Just cook one minute longer. Have fun tonight with my Velvet Chicken. You may never order take out again. Enjoy!
1 Egg white
1 TBSP Rice Wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tsp Kosher salt
1 Lb. Diced chicken breasts
1 TBSP Canola oil or peanut oil
Method- Prep- 30 minutes. Cooking time 5 minutes.
- Mix egg white, vinegar and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Add chicken, coating meat well. with marinade. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Bring water to a boil in a large skillet over high heat. Reduce to a simmer. Pour in the oil.
- Pour off the marinade from the chicken and with a bamboo strainer gently spoon the chicken into the hot water. The water will form a layer of foam. This is normal. After 3 minutes, with your bamboo strainer or a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the saucepan and set aside. Finish cooking chicken with recipe that follows.
Meggen's Sweet Ginger sauce for Velveted CHICKEN
1/4 cup Tamari or reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp Sesame oil
1 TBSP Honey
1 TBSP Rice wine vinegar
1 TBSP sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
Method- Sweet ginger sauce- Prep 5 minutes Total time- 10 minutes
- Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until combined. Can be stored in the fridge up to four days. Shake well before using. Adjust seasonings to taste if desired.
Cashew Chicken with Sweet Ginger Sauce – serves 4
1 Lb Velveted chicken- cooked
1 TBSP Canola oil
2 Cloves Garlic- minced fine
2 TBSP Fresh ginger- grated
1 Cup Broccoli- chopped
1/2 Red bell pepper- cut into strips
1/2 Yellow bell pepper-cut into strips
1 Bunch Green onions-sliced on the diagonal, reserve half for garnish
2 Carrots-sliced thin on the diagonal
1/2 Purple onion- sliced into strips
1/2 Cup Roasted cashews
1 Cup Frozen shelled edamame- thawed
Meggen’s Sweet Ginger sauce
Cashew Chicken with sweet ginger sauce
- Heat oil in a large pan on medium high heat.
- Add in carrots, broccoli, purple onions, peppers and finally green onions- in that order- cooking each vegetable about 1 minute before adding in the next ingredient.
- Add in ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Reduce heat too low. Add in sauce and cook coating vegetables well. Add in chicken. Cook one minute. Add in Edamame. Cook another minute and finally add in cashews, gently warming them with the sauce. Add in 1/4 cup water if needed. Cover and steam on low for 3 minutes.
- Assemble stir fry on a large platter, sprinkle with additional reserved green onions. Serve with jasmine or brown rice and additional sweet chili sauce or Tamari.