How to Velvet Chicken





Introduction: How to Velvet Chicken

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The word "velvet" is a verb... sometimes. ;-)  It's the almost-secret poaching technique that's used to produce tender, succulent chicken, beef and pork at your favorite Chinese Restaurant.

If you've been frustrated by less-than-stellar stir-fry results at home, simple velveting will take your stir-fry from mundane to extraordinary.  Your family will swear it's take-out. ;-)

Here's how it's done with chicken:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless Chicken meat, cut into thin strips
  • 2 teaspoons Rice Wine (Saki) or Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola or Peanut Oil- divided
  • Water
  • Medium bowl
  • Whisk
  • Colander
  • large skillet
  • Slotted spoon

Whisk the egg white, cornstarch, rice wine, salt and 1 Tablespoon of oil in a medium bowl until smooth.

Add the sliced chicken and stir until coated.

Refrigerate (marinate) 30 minutes. Drain in colander.

Add 1-2 inches of water plus 1 Tablespoon oil to the skillet.  Bring to a full boil over high heat.  

Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Immediately add chicken strips, individually, to the almost-boiling water.  Stir with slotted spoon so they don't stick together.

Once the water comes back to a barely-bubbling simmer, cook the chicken strips for 1 minute longer, stirring occasionally.

After 1 minute, remove the chicken with a slotted spoon into the colander to fully drain.

Put the drained strips into bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

The chicken strips are warm, fully cooked and ready to be added to your favorite stir-fry.  

Need a delicious Stir-fry recipe?  Try one of my favorites: Black Pepper-Garlic Chicken



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    Did this tonight and it came out beautifully! I most often seem to overcook the meat for stirfries, hopefully never again :D Wonder if it'll also work for Indian food, such as Chicken Korma, or Thai food such as Green Curry? Also always overcook those...

    1 reply

    I'm glad you enjoyed it Flammaefata.

    Last week, I used the velveting marinade for thin beef strips. I fried them quickly instead of simmering them in water.

    The meat was lightly browned and tender-crispy.

    It was the best Beef Broccoli I've ever made!

    This method turned out perfectly! I will use it from now on for all my stir fry. I only tried the chicken, but I will try other cuts too. This recipe is a keeper. Nice and tender just like the real deal. Glad you cracked the code for me.

    Thanks for a delicious recipe uh but this is not the velvet chicken recipe I have ever eaten before.

    If i battered and fried the chicken after velveting it would it still atay soft inside? I'm trying to recreate takeaway style crispy chicken in ok sauce

    Awesome instructable thanks for sharing ! I'm going to taste this. 1 of my all time favorites is Chicken Cacciatore Easy to make but so delicious.

    There are a few ways to velvet meat. This is a good method. You can leave out the salt and oil and use a tbsp soy, dark soy, golden mountain, etc instead. A tip: you want the amount of marinade to just barely cover the outside of the meat. So, if it seems like a lot of liquid, try adding it a little at a time until meat is coated. Too much marinade can get you a mess or undesirable results. If your meat is sitting a pool of marinade, you used too much.

    Need some troubleshooting please! Did I miss a step somewhere? Was I supposed to rinse the chicken either before or after the poaching? Because mine came out with a thick coating of weird stringy stuff that was really terrible. I put it in colander and hosed it down, so it was just plain chicken. And how long total was I supposed to simmer the chicken? I think I did about 8 min, and it came out okay, but it's not nearly as velvety and fantastic as it's supposed to be. Please help!

    2 replies

    No, you don't need to rinse the chicken. Once the water returns to a slight simmer, only cook about one more minute, like the directions say. Although it doesn't seem like enough time, you're cooking very small cut up pieces of chicken, so they cook quickly. After I remove the chicken from the pan, I do pat it down with a paper towel to remove some of the excess egg 'slime'. Once you mix the chicken into whatever stir-fry you're making, it doesn't make much of a difference anyway. I've made this recipe 3-4 times with the suggested Black Pepper Garlic Chicken recipe and it comes out amazing every time! Good luck next time!

    Success! I remade this today, and changed 2 things: I cut the chicken into smaller pieces than last time, and used medium heat after putting the chicken into the water, instead of medium-low. And I stirred the heck out of them as they cooked, which knocked off most of the "slime". I picked them out with chopsticks and covered the bowl with aluminum foil, and they were perfect! Tender, perfectly cooked, and no excessive gooey junk! Definitely will be using this technique again!

    can this be stored in freezer for long time?? Air tight not to loose moisture, in small zip bags for individual use?? Have u tried that??

    I've been frying my chicken in oil, which still turns out pretty well, but is quite oily (obviously!). I cook Chinese food very often, so I'm quite happy that I found this method and I hope to use it the next time I cook with chicken. Thanks!

    can this be done and stored in the marinade, in the fridge for 24 hours?

    OH MY GOODNESS! I have been searching high and low for years for how restaurants make this delectable chicken and your recipe was perfect! It was very easy to make and so succulent and tender. Thank you so much for posting this. I will have to try your garlic sauce next time, I already had a basic sauce prepared that I had to use up. I am also looking forward to trying it with beef. No more dry overcooked meat in my stirfry anymore.

    1 reply

    So glad you liked this method! Thanks for commenting!

    Thank you so much for the recipe i really love this chicken and now my wife will.

    1 reply

    You're welcome, Daniel... thank you for commenting! :-)

    Hi! Awesome to read about this - after the meat has simmered do we then fry it a little in the 'stir-fry' or simply add it to the fried veggies?

    Thanks for your reply :)

    1 reply

    Hi bammabits,

    I toss the velveted chicken into my hot stir fry just as the veggies get tender-crisp. It only takes a minute to reach temperature.

    Thank you for commenting! ;-)