How to make chicken tender like the Chinese restaurants

Velvet chicken and bok choy

Velvet chicken bok choy

I discovered the secret to melt-in-your-mouth chicken is a process called “velveting” and I do it every time now. A simple corn flour and egg white marinade 30 minutes before a 60 second parboil, velveting is a pre-cooking technique used to prevent delicate foods from overcooking. The velvet coat protects the flavor and texture of the food when it is placed into hot oil or water.  Velveting is not a tenderizing method, but it keeps foods from becoming tough. 

Velvet Chicken Cashew

Velvet Chicken Cashew

Whisk a mixture of 2 egg whites, 3 tbsp cornstarch, 3 tbsp corn flour (fine, fine corn meal) 2 tbsp rice wine, 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce and 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger with enough water (a few tbsp tops) to make it wet.  Toss the chicken into the velvet slurry, the egg white corn flour mixture. Let sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge.  I’ve even left it up to 12 hours and also frozen it in the marinade.

How I use it 90% of the time: I’ll let a package thaw, then lift the chicken directly from the marinade and into panko bread crumbs. Then I saute it in a scant amount of coconut oil.

To precook for another recipe: into a pot of boiling water, spoon the chicken chunks. Separate the pieces quickly, and remove after 60 seconds. Remember, you are just par-boiling them, you will cook them later. The water will stop boiling because the chicken will cool it. It’s ok if it does or does not.  Drain into a strainer.

Velvet Kung Pao

Velvet Chicken Kung Pao

I never parboil.  I’ll lift it from the velvet slurry, the egg white cornflour mixture, and drain it a little, then put the chicken chunks or thin slices into a grill pan or saute in 2 tbsp of coconut oil until just brown each side.  I’ve also breaded the pieces with breadcrumbs before going into the pan.   I’ve never made it this tender. The corn flour is the important ingredient for the velvet slurry. Saute maybe 3-5 minutes at medium high heat.

I’ve also made the slurry using just a cup of Eggbeaters egg replacement stuff, 3 tbsp corn flour and vinegar.  The formula to make it tender is egg white, corn flour and an acid. The other ingredients are to season it.


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