~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chinese Chicken Stir-Fry....Using the Water Velveting Technique

Chinese Chicken Stir-Fry....Using the Water Velveting Technique...I recently came across a technique which "tenderizes" meat. This particular technique is called "velveting"... a process used in Chinese stir-fries. I had never heard of it before until I came across it on BigOven. I thought it was really neat...actually, I was fascinated with the idea. This velveting process gives meat a smooth, velvety coating. It also helps keep the meat from drying out... making the meat juicy and tender. I don't really think it tenderizes the meat, but it sure makes the meat nice and soft.

Sometimes, I really crave Chinese food.... I 've often wondered how the Chinese restaurants got their meat to be so soft and velvety. For some reason, I always thought they used some sort of tenderizer. I guess I was wrong...ok, maybe some do use a tenderizer. I really don't know. But I like this method.... am happy that I have finally found a way to duplicate it at home with wonderful results.

Velveting can be done in 2 different ways...using the oil method or the water method. The meat is first marinated and allowed to sit for 30 minutes and then either cooked in oil or water until the chicken turns white or is about 90% cooked. It is important to know that if the oil technique is used, the chicken cannot be refrigerated for later use. Refrigeration will toughen the chicken...and not become tender. But if the water method is used, the chicken can be refrigerated.

For this post, I chose to do the water technique. It is easier and I don't have to use too much oil.

What I really, really like about the velveting technique: You can velvet the meat in advance and finish it off later. For example, you can velvet the chicken in the morning and have it ready for dinner. Simplifies the meal in 3 easy steps.

When it comes to finishing the dish off.... all you would need to do is:
1) Add oil and cook garlic/ginger for a minute or so
2) Add vegetables and velveted meat and cook for another couple of minutes or so
3) Add sauce and nuts(if using) cook till thickened. Done. Simple and good!

You can use the velveting method with all sorts of meat...beef, chicken, shrimp, pork, etc. Also, feel free to use all sorts of sauces....kung pao, stir-fry sauce, hoisin, plum sauce, black bean, sweet and sour, etc.

I really liked this method of making the meat soft and tender...so, I am sharing my find with you:). You can now have restaurant quality stir-fries at home. Hope you enjoy...

You will need:
1 lb chicken, you can use either chicken thighs or chicken breast
1 onion, cut in small chunks (optional)
1 red bell pepper, cut in small chunks( optional)
1-2 TBS oil( I used 1 TBS coconut oil)
1 TBS minced garlic( +/- depending on taste)
1 TBS minced ginger( +/- depending on taste)
dried chiles/ chile flakes

Velveting Marinade:
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1 TBS sherry( I am sure you can use vinegar or white wine)
1 egg white
1 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS oil

Kung Pao Sauce: can use any store-bought or make your own
Here is a simple homemade sauce( for 1 lb of meat)...that could probably be doubled. It could even be thickened a bit with cornstarch slurry. I thickened mine a tad bit...just enough to coat the chicken and vegetables. You might not need to...depending on what vegetables/sauce you use. Adjust seasoning to your taste...you can even add some sesame oil.

1 TBS sherry wine(or regular white wine)
1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp chili paste with garlic
3 TBS water(or stock)
1 TBS dry sherry
1 TBS. sugar
2 TBS soy sauce

Cut the chicken either in cubes or strips. Place in a container.

Apply the velveting marinade.
1. Sprinkle in the salt while stirring the meat.
2. Stir in the sherry.
3. Add the egg white and gently mix to coat each piece of chicken making sure not to froth the egg.
4. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, coating each piece.
5. Add the oil and stir to coat. Let the meat marinate for 30 minutes.

Prepare other ingredients:
While the chicken marinates, prepare the other ingredients and the sauce. Have them ready.

1. In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce and set it aside.

Velveting the chicken: Using the water method.
Once the chicken has marinated, cook it using the boiling method of the velveting process.

1.Start this process by bringing a pot of water with just one tablespoon of the peanut oil to a boil.
2. Once the water boils, lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Scatter in the chicken, stir to separate and keep stirring gently until the coating turns white. This should take less than a minute.
3. Then remove the chicken pieces quickly with a slotted spoon( or drain using a colander). Set the chicken aside. Try not to get any of the egg that may have floated to the top in with the chicken....
4. The chicken can be refrigerated( or even frozen...though I haven't done that) for use later.

Adding other ingredients:
Get your ingredients ready...this always makes things go much smoother.

1. Heat a non-stick skillet or wok on high. Add a tablespoon(or 2) of oil(can use coconut oil) and let it get hot.
2. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger.
3. Stir fry just until it is light brown, about one minute....make sure you watch it as it can burn rather quickly.
4. Add the vegetables(if using) along with the velveted chicken. Stir fry for just 1 more minute or so.
5. Then add the sauce(whatever you like to use; store-bought or homemade) and cook for another 2 minutes or so, stirring until the vegetables and chicken are coated with the sauce. If you notice that your sauce is not thick enough, you might need to add a bit(not too much) of a cornstarch slurry to thicken it. 6. Add nuts(peanuts or cashews, if using) and green onion. Toss to mix.
7. Top with sesame seeds if you like.
In the above pictures, I used garlic, ginger, red onion, chile flakes, peanuts and green onion.... and the homemade sauce.
In the above photo series, I used whole garlic, ginger, whole chiles, red bell pepper, white onion, cashews and a sprinkle of chopped green onion....and a store bought sauce and a bit of cornstarch slurry.


Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

You are a genius! All of those dishes look amazing and just like the Chinese restaurant :) I can't wait to try this method myself. thank you so much for sharing this with us!!!

Speranta said...

Arata minunat !mereu ma suprinzi cu retete interesante !

Ellie said...

Andrea...Thanks for stopping by. I wish I had come up with the idea...but am really glad I came across this type of method. Sure makes Chinese cooking much simpler!

Speranta, Multumesc pentru visita, si pentru incurajare. Apreciez mult. ~Ellie

Anonymous said...

My family used to own a Chinese Takeout and that's how my papa cooks meat. I always assumed he was just precooking it so that it would be faster when people ordered it, but looking at your post it seems that he was velveting. Isn't it funny that I'm learning this from your blog instead of from my father?

Ellie said...

Budafist, So glad you stopped by.... Yes, this method also allows the food to be cooked-to-order... ensuring you get a hot sizzling plate and nice velvety meat:).

Pretty neat to know that you've seen this firsthand....I am glad I stumbled upon this technique, as I will be making my stir-fries this way from now on...

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Hi Ellie, I made this tonight. We LOVED it!! The chicken was amazing. Thanks so much for blogging about it so I could find it and enjoy it as well. I really love your blog, this is the 2nd thing I've made and I'll be back for more :)
http://andrea-thekitchenwitch.blogspot.com/2010/06/chinese-style-chicken-techinque-water.html if you want to read my entry :)

Ellie said...

Andrea, I really appreciate you taking the time to write and share your feedback. It really makes my day when someone else tries a recipe and likes it just as much as we do:)....So, thank you.

I am glad you liked it as well. I have tried it with beef as well....and liked the results. ~Ellie

Anonymous said...

Just finished dinner. Made the velvet chicken and put it with celery and cashews in a brown garlic sauce.
My husband loved it and my young son thought the chicken was too tender! Thank you for the blog you made it very easy. P.

Ellie said...

Anon, That's wonderful! So glad you tried it and that it was a success for you.... and that the family liked it.
I so appreciate you taking the time to stop by and share your feedback. Glad I could be of help:)... makes my day when someone enjoys a recipe I've posted.

Anonymous said...

Could you please explain why refrigerating after will harden the chicken when using the oil velveting method as oppose to the water velveting method?

Ellie said...

Anon, Well, that's what the "books" say:)... the thing is that when you velvet meat in oil the texture is firmer than the one in water. Ideally both water and oil velveted meat should be stir-fried immediately. But since the water method yields a softer and more bouncy texture you can get away with refrigerating it for a bit. I'll be honest, I am not sure of the science behind it... how the oil method toughens the meat upon refrigeration. I can only guess. Just as hot oil crisps up a piece of meat, water will never do so. It's all in the science, I suppose:)...
Not much help, but the technique works:)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have tried this couple of times and its a big hit already with my family. The only issue is the carb content of velveted chicken. Can I replace the cornstarch with something else. Can only egg whites work or do we absolutely need to add cornstarch?

Ellie said...

Anon, I am glad you've enjoyed the recipe. As for substituting the cornstarch for something else that has no carbs is quite difficult. The cornstarch does have a role in sealing in and keeping the meat moist. I'm not sure if the egg white only will help... because the cornstarch helps the egg to cling to the meat and provides that layer of protection.
You might want to skip the velveting altogether, if you don't want the additional carbs. I've heard of adding baking soda to achieve a tenderness in the chicken similar to velveting...you wash the baking soda away before cooking... it might be worth trying.
Hope that helps.... and thanks for sharing.

anonymous said...

Can this recipe be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc. or should I cook it 1 pound at a time?

Ellie said...

Anon, I don't see why you couldn't double it. Should work just as well. Hope that helps... and enjoy!