Velveting is a common Chinese method for marinating slices of meat in a mixture of wine, egg white, sugar and cornstarch to make the meat more tender when stir-fried, deep fried, boiled or steamed. It can be used for strips of meat and for small portions of meat such as half chicken breasts and pork tenderloins. It is also ideal for fish and seafood. The marinated meat is often plunged briefly in hot oil for a few seconds, which makes the exterior brown and crisp. But this can be replaced by a water-blanching method to save having to heating oil solely for this purpose. This water method involves blanching the meat in boiling water to which a little oil has been added. There are many variations for the marinade depending on the dish. Garlic and soy sauce are often included. This article outlines the velveting methods and provides several recipes to try at home.
For each large egg white you will need 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon sherry, white wine, rice wine vinegar and a tablespoon of oil. Whisk egg whites until light, but not frothy. Add the cornstarch and other ingredients and whisk again until well combined and lump-free.
Dry the meat well using a paper towel to avoid diluting the marinade. Add the meat to the marinade in a bowl and mix well to ensure all pieces are well coated on all surfaces. Set aside for 20-30 minutes. Fill a wok or large sauces pan with hot water. Bring to the boil and add about one teaspoon of oil. Add the velveted meat to the water and stir with chopsticks for only about 30 seconds. Drain the meat in a sieve. It you have hot oil available you can plunge the meat into the hot oil for about 10-20 seconds. White meats such as pork and chicken should become white and opaque, but remain raw inside. The aim is to only pre-cook the exterior coating. Remove the meat and strain in a sieve or colanda.
Slice the chicken into large cubes or pieces. Whisk the egg white in a medium size bowl. Add the wine and cornstarch, and mix well. Add the chicken pieces and coat well with the marinade. Cover the bowl and set aside in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Heat 2 cups of oil in a wok until the oil reaches 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Add the chicken pieces, and cook for about 30 seconds, until they just turn white. This is the pre-cooking phase. Remove and drain in a colander or sieve lined with paper towel. Stir fry the chicken with the mixed vegetables until the chicken is cooked in the center. Cooking the chicken and vegetables separately means that they are both going to cooked to perfection.
For the Velveting Marinade
For the Sauce:
For cooking the broccoli
Cut the chicken into thick slices. Whisk the egg white, and then add the wine, cornstarch and salt and whisk again to make a smooth paste. Add the chicken and mix well to coat the chicken with the mixture. Cover the bowl and marinate the chicken in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Prepare the sauce by combining the oyster sauce, dark soy, light soy and water in a small bowl. Using a cup or another small bowl, combine the cornstarch with water and set aside as a thickener that is added after the stir-frying has been finished. Wash and drain the broccoli, break into flowerets and slice each one several times. Crush the garlic.
To Pre-cook the chicken, heat two cups of oil in a pot or large saucepan to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Add the chicken cubes and cook for only 20-30 seconds to seal the coating. Remove the chicken pieces and drain in a colander or sieve lined with paper. Heat a wok and add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is very hot, stir fry the crushed garlic for about 10 seconds. Then stir fry the broccoli. In the final stages lower the heat and add 1/2 cup of water in several batches to finish cooking the broccoli. It should have started to soften soft and turned bright green in color. Remove the broccoli and set a side. Clean the wok, add two more tablespoons of oil and heat to a high temperature. Stir-fry the chicken until just cooked, lower the heat and add the broccoli to reheat. Stir to combine, and then add the thicker mixture. Stir quickly to thicken. Stir with steamed rice.