Mar 18, 2013

Velveting Chicken

Velveting Chicken

For years I wondered how Chinese restaurants manage to keep their chicken so moist and tender. But now I wonder no more.

There was little I could find on Dutch forums or websites, so I’m pretty sure I’ll make a Dutchie (or two) happy today. Also, I promised Sylvia Witteman I’d spread the word and fear her wrath if I don’t.

If you want to start cooking your own Chinese food at home because of the high restaurant prices, or simply because you like Chinese food but not the boatload of MSG they often add to it, this is where you kickoff.

The technique is called Velveting. It’s simply marinating the chicken before lightly poaching it. You can poach them in two ways: water or oil. The recipe I’m using is a basic white velvet marinade and once you got this down—and it’s crazy simple—the sky is the limit.

I’ll start with the water technique because it allows you to store the chicken in the fridge for some time after velveting it. With the oil technique you have to use the chicken straight away.

 

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless chicken breast
1 large egg-white
1 tbsp Chinese rice vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 a tsp regular salt)
1 tbsp cornstarch
8 cups of water
1 tbsp peanut oil

 

Directions: 

Start by thinly slicing your chicken.
Velveting Chicken

Grab a big bowl and separate the egg. We only use the egg-white.
Velveting Chicken

Add the rice vinegar, salt and cornstarch to it and whisk until you end up with a silky marinade.
Velveting Chicken

Add your chicken.
Velveting Chicken

Stir well and make sure all pieces are coated.
Velveting Chicken

Cover the bowl with cling film and store it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Velveting Chicken

 
Fast forward to a few hours later. Remove the chicken from the fridge and let it come to room temperature for a bit.
 

If you only sliced one or two chicken breasts and there’s more marinade, drain it in a colander first. Mine just coated the chicken.
Velveting Chicken

I used a wok but you can also do this in a skillet or regular pan. Combine the oil with the water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
Velveting Chicken

 
Once the water boils, lower the heat to medium so you only have a slight simmer going. Add your chicken, stir to separate the pieces and cook until they just turn white. This will take under a minute so do not leave your stove.
 

Remove them from the water and drain well. The chicken will still be slightly raw in the centre now.
Velveting Chicken

 
Now it’s ready to be added to the last stages of your stir-fry or curry sauce (terrible photos, great sauce!).
 

Who knew it would be this simple?
Velveting Chicken

Now fess up. Which one of you knew about this and didn’t tell me!

 

Velveting Chicken
Ingredients
    1 pound boneless chicken breast
    1 large egg-white
    1 tbsp Chinese rice vinegar
    1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 a tsp regular salt)
    1 tbsp cornstarch
    8 cups of water
    1 tbsp peanut oil

Directions
    Thinly slice your chicken. Separate the egg and put the white in a big bowl. Add the rice vinegar, cornstarch and salt to it and whisk until you have a silky marinade.

    Add your chicken, make sure all pieces are coated, cover with cling film and store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once ready to use it you remove the chicken from the fridge and let it come to room temperature for a bit.

    f you only sliced one or two chicken breasts and there’s more marinade, drain it in a colander first. Mine just coated the chicken.

    I used a wok but you can also do this in a skillet or regular pan. Combine the oil with the water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once the water boils, lower the heat to medium so you only have a slight simmer going. Add your chicken, stir to separate the pieces and cook until they just turn white. This will take under a minute so don’t leave the stove.

    Remove them from the water and drain well. The chicken will still be slightly raw in the centre now. Now your chicken ready to be added to the last stages of your stir-fry or curry sauce.

Meal type: Marinade, Poaching, Poultry, Chinese
Servings: 4
Copyright: © kayotickitchen.com

    © kayotic.com
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    36 Comments »

    1. 1

      I’ve never heard of this! This is really great to know. I can’t wait to try this out with a stir-fry. Thanks, Kay!

      Lana @ Never Enough Thyme on Mar 18, 2013 @ 3:37 pm Reply
      1. I had no idea either. Tried it immediately and it was all I needed to get the exact same structure and flavour as the chicken at my favourite Chinese restaurant.

        Kay on Mar 18, 2013 @ 3:40 pm Reply
    2. 2

      I confess! Been using this like forever on asian stirfry dishes :)
      Another quick and dirty method (especially with some beef types) “marinade” your meat in baking soda for about 30 min, then rinse and marinade with your favorite stuff. Stir fry and enjoy tender meat !

      Soes on Mar 18, 2013 @ 3:48 pm Reply
      1. I need to have a word with you! :)

        Kay on Mar 18, 2013 @ 3:58 pm Reply
    3. 3

      wow! I’m going to try this really soon! Love chicken, so thank you Sylvia for making Kay post this recipe ;-)

      Ellen on Mar 18, 2013 @ 6:08 pm Reply
    4. 4

      I never knew!! This is amazing.

      Bev @ Bev Cooks on Mar 18, 2013 @ 6:44 pm Reply
    5. 5

      I knew ;-))

      Lous on Mar 18, 2013 @ 7:03 pm Reply
      1. Tsssssskk :)

        Kay on Mar 18, 2013 @ 7:04 pm Reply
    6. 6

      What a great tip–I am saving this!

      Bree {Skinny Mommy} on Mar 18, 2013 @ 7:27 pm Reply
    7. 7

      I’ve never even heard of this!  Thanks for sharing!

      Rachel on Mar 18, 2013 @ 7:29 pm Reply
    8. 8

      I’ve never heard of this but I find it really neat!

      Angie @ Big Bear's Wife on Mar 18, 2013 @ 8:42 pm Reply
    9. 9

      You see Kay that’s why I fell in love with you all  those years ago.
      You do ALL the heavy lifting and find out crazy neat stuff like this 
      which of course I take credit for at my table when asked.. ‘Hey Adman
      your chick is so tender it’s to die for.. so how did you do it.
      ‘Oh it’s nuttin’ I reply ‘just summtin I picked up from my bestest chick in Dutchland’
       
      Luv you like a mosquito bite,
      Dave 
       
       

      Adman Dave on Mar 18, 2013 @ 9:00 pm Reply
      1. I’ll just call your wife and tell her it was all me :)

        Kay on Mar 19, 2013 @ 9:33 am Reply
        1. Traded in the wife for a truck and RV trailer.. got a pretty good deal too
          :>)

          Adman Dave on Mar 27, 2013 @ 10:11 am Reply
    10. 10

      Wow. I cannot believe that I have NEVER heard of this!

      Cage Free Family on Mar 19, 2013 @ 4:30 am Reply
      1. I felt the same way! 

        Kay on Mar 19, 2013 @ 9:33 am Reply
    11. 11

      Neat idea, must give this a try..

      Arch on Mar 19, 2013 @ 1:16 pm Reply
    12. 12

      I have to confess to knowing this from Ken Hom’s recipes too. Sorry Kay!

      Stephanie (New Zealand) on Mar 21, 2013 @ 5:32 am Reply
      1. Not feeling the love :)

        Kay on Mar 22, 2013 @ 3:54 pm Reply
    13. 13

      Tried this tonight, and LOVED the results! Thank you! 

      Holly on Mar 24, 2013 @ 4:44 am Reply
    14. 14

      Kay .. Thank you for one very slick trick!!!
      However, I’m confused.  Obviously this works for chicken (and I assume turkey), but does it work with beef and pork too?  Or do they need something different?  Thanks for any guidance you can give!
       

      Pat on Mar 24, 2013 @ 10:53 pm Reply
      1. This works for beef, pork and shrimp, too. From what I understood beef and pork have to be poached in oil while chicken and shrimp can be poached both in oil and water.

        Kay on Mar 24, 2013 @ 11:21 pm Reply
    15. 15

      Thank you again!!!

      Pat on Mar 25, 2013 @ 12:54 am Reply
    16. 16

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  I have wondered about this for many years. I plan to share it with many friends and tell them how wonderful your web site is.

      Katie on Mar 26, 2013 @ 1:36 pm Reply
    17. 17

      Can the chicken be frozen after velveting? It would be so great to do this in a big batch, then freeze it in bags for quick meals.

      Lisa on Apr 1, 2013 @ 7:48 pm Reply
      1. From what I’ve been told it can be frozen after velveting, but I haven’t tried it yet so no idea how it will come out.

        Kay on Apr 1, 2013 @ 8:14 pm Reply
    18. 18

      Ohmigosh! Ohmigosh! Thank you so much for this recipe!! I’ve wondered how this was done for so long and now I can make my “tjap tjoy” at home too! I’m from Holland as well. :)

      TJ Lubrano on Apr 18, 2013 @ 12:06 am Reply
    19. 19

      OMG Kay, it worked! Made a delicious stir-fry yesterday and we enjoyed the soft meat. Will definitely use this more often!
      thanks for sharing :)

      Ellen on Jun 6, 2013 @ 12:37 am Reply
    20. 20

      I will definitely try it, been looking for this for ages. I wonder can you replace rice vinegar with apple cider if you do not have any? Also could tapioca starch replace the corn?

      encho on Sep 3, 2013 @ 7:40 pm Reply
    21. 21

      Thank you for posting this! I have been wondering for years how they made the chicken so moist.  I tried this for dinner and it worked perfectly!!

      Bailey on Nov 26, 2013 @ 12:42 am Reply
    22. 22

      I had never heard of this technique either! I tried your exact recipe, but I used in on a large sirloin that I used for a stir fry. It was amazing and well worth the extra step! I do have eggs from own chicken which I wasn’t sure if one would be extra large, so I used two egg whites with great results. I will never skip this step when making stir-fry again!

      Heidi on Apr 4, 2014 @ 5:07 am Reply
    23. 23

      Nice technique, just a note there is no factual studies that show MSG (a naturally occurring product)has any of the reputed effects that wives tales have associated with it.

      Mark on Jun 6, 2015 @ 2:56 am Reply
      1. There are tons of things that aren’t bad for you when consumed in ordinary levels. I doubt many people will have problems with the amount of msg in a bouillon cube, or soy sauce or Parmesan, but the problem is overuse… and Chinese restaurants are never moderate when it comes to adding synthetic MSG.

        Kay on Jun 6, 2015 @ 10:09 am Reply
    24. 24

      Mark/Kay—I for one, cannot tolerate MSG. Within 15 minutes or so, I become groggy, achy, weak, fuzzy brain, & a good chance of getting a migraine. A very nice Chinese cook showed me the ingredients in their sauces, etc……yep, MSG. It’s poison to migraine sufferers. Its also hidden under many different names.

      Jean on Sep 10, 2015 @ 7:25 am Reply
      1. I don’t seem to have a problem tolerating msg, but my husband gets serious heart palpitations after eating Chinese food. It’s pretty scary stuff. In the NL they try to hide it under different names as well.

        Kay on Sep 10, 2015 @ 8:57 am Reply
    25. 25

      I’ve been using this method for a while now and always use chicken.
      Is there a vegetarian option? Basically can you velvet vegetables?

      JaneyGal on Jan 24, 2016 @ 2:02 pm Reply

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