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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:

Ingredients:
  • 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
Tools:
  • Medium bowl
  • Whisk
  • Colander
  • large skillet
  • Slotted spoon
     
Preparation:

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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flammaefata2 years ago
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...
bajablue (author)  flammaefata2 years ago
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!
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.
beamerpook1 month ago

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!

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??

LukeL15 months ago

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!

pammclure5 months ago

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.

bajablue (author)  janet.edwards.3199 months ago

So glad you liked this method! Thanks for commenting!

Daniel Zf1 year ago
Thank you so much for the recipe i really love this chicken and now my wife will.
bajablue (author)  Daniel Zf1 year ago
You're welcome, Daniel... thank you for commenting! :-)
bammabits2 years ago
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 :)
bajablue (author)  bammabits2 years ago
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! ;-)

WUVIE2 years ago
One day not so long ago, while awaiting my Moo Goo Gai Pan at a favorite local Chinese food restaurant, I happened to see a bowl of what I thought to be mucky, icky-looking chicken in the kitchen. Oh, but little did I know. After seeing this recipe, and then making your delicious Black Pepper-Garlic Chicken, I now realize the chicken was being velveted in this very same manner.

This evening, I cooked this very chicken for the very first time, and I was very impressed. I was afraid the texture would be soggy and mushy, but oh, no, it was not at all. Thank you so much for introducing me to this fabulous technique. Made ahead, then added to stir fry, there will now be no excuse for driving 35 miles to for take-out.

Thank you, thank you!
bajablue (author)  WUVIE2 years ago
Happy to oblige and help keep the planet a little greener, WUVIE! ;-) Thank you (very much) for commenting!!!
thomas96662 years ago
I love using this to make General Tso's chicken, great technique for a great dish! love this!

Although it doesn't work with pork, or at least my dad couldn't get it work with pork xD
bajablue (author)  thomas96662 years ago
Yum... I love General Tso Chicken, too.

So pork wasn't impressive, eh? I'm wondering if the cut of pork and how it's sliced might be the key to successful velveting.  A pork tenderloin, sliced along the grain sounds like a good bet to me.  I'll have to try that when I get back to the states.  I love moo shu pork.

Thanks for comenting, thomas!
darman122 years ago
Ooh, we have matching bowls that go with the plate in your first picture! It's like we're connected O.o
bajablue (author)  darman122 years ago
Too funny, darman!

The Universe has a way of doing things like that... a good way, of course! ;-D
That's a truth fact!
bajablue (author)  darman122 years ago
Boy howdy... I totally agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
iceng2 years ago
117,192... WOW

Super for a halftime potato state girl :-)

Just 257 words in your ible  which is also a prime number   and
if each of your words multiplied by 4-5-6  it equals  117192....

There you are about half way to the moon.

A
bajablue (author)  iceng2 years ago
L-ingOL... you always have that effect on me, iceng! ;-D

MaryT8M2 years ago
WOW I too always wondered why mine never had just the right texture and juciness. Can't wait to give this a try

BTW have you ever boiled hamburger for things like chili? I learned that from a place my friend worked in. Crumble the raw hamburger into boiling water (I use a masher to continue breaking the hamburger up). It releases a LOT of the fat, and the texture is much finer. Then you drain the water (and fat) off. You COULD brown it, but it's fully cooked at that point, so I usually don't. Then just use in pasta or chili etc
bajablue (author)  MaryT8M2 years ago
You know... I've never heard of that,  but boiling the hamburger meat makes perfect sense!  I'm sure the meat is a lot more tender than browning it and the color doesn't matter a bit.

Thanks for sharing this tip, MaryT!  

Down in Baja, there's a Chili-cook off every Spring.  I think you've just given me the secret to winning. ;-p~
I don't actually boil hamburger meat, but I do add some water whiie slowly browning - not a lot of water, just enough to loosen the meat. It makes the meat break up nicely and keeps it from getting "crispy". I must have picked this up from my grandmother - can't remember exactly what she was making, but always did the water in the pan.
bajablue (author)  zanne1012 years ago
Obviously your Grandma is pretty smart! ;-)
maka MaryT8M2 years ago
A friend of mine owned a diner where we live before he passed away (now his daughter and her partner own and operate it) and on this episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives" he shows his chili technique... he puts the raw hamburger directly into the chili, if i remember correctly.
The boiled beef method is the popular way to make coney sauce, popular in the coney dog parlors in Michigan. I believe Cincinnati chili is also done that way. When you boil it, you get that finer texture, rather than the chunks you get when you fry it.

Also, thanks for the chicken method. I, too, have had a problem with chicken in stir fries.
tanrazz2 years ago
Awesome! In cooking school, we learned to precook/preboil chicken, but other meats (pork, lamb, beef, etc.), we could just cook straightaway after marinating.
bajablue (author)  tanrazz2 years ago
Have fun experimenting, tanrazz!
steelchef2 years ago
Sensational. Thanks man? I have used steaming for years to achieve this velvety tenderness. This is far more convenient and IMHO a superior means of achieving that gourmet touch.
bajablue (author)  steelchef2 years ago
lol, steelchef.... that would be woman. ;-D I think you'll be very happy with the results!

Personally, I can't wait to try this technique with chicken and baby dumplings. ;-P~
We have already tried this, twice. It’s similar to my old way of preparing ‘Ginger Beef’ or ‘Dry Fried Shredded Beef.’ The first trial was your original recipe. Next we did some tender beef in the same way. To finish, the beef was fried with blanched carrot slivers until dark brown and mixed with the following:
6 garlic cloves, crushed
6 teaspoons sugar
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Saki or dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

Simply mix all ingredients, let stand for an hour or more. Pour over the beef just as it is done. We served it with Udon noodles and some green onions. FD!
This is the restaurant recipe for above mentioned beef recipes. It is also great with pork or poultry. We’ve spent most of the day on this experiment and could not be more pleased.

Thank you again Ms bajablue! A truley unique instructable.
bajablue (author)  steelchef2 years ago
WOW... that sounds incredible, steelchef! I can always remember where to your recipe but not a lot of people read the comments.

Have you considered doing an Instuctable of this recipe? What cut of meat did you use?

I have very limited computer abilities and am frankly daunted by the thought of posting an Instructable.
FYI, the beef was prime rib. We buy a bunch when it’s on sale and reduce it to various future uses. A typical 5 rib roast will yield 3 steaks, a pound each of strips for skewers and burger. Of course there are always bits which work well in stir fries such as Beef and Green Peppers. We add fresh tomatoes to that recipe which makes a complete meal, (rice or noodles added as sides.)
In the past I’ve simply coated them with seasoned cornstarch and shallow fried before adding the sauce. My wife/critic says that the ‘Velvetting’ procedure is superior. I agree and we will probably use it for all preps in the future.
I have some pork loin thawing for further testing tomorrow. We can’t get enough of that sweet, sour, salty umami taste.
I’m retired and cooking is my passion so your reveal is very welcome. I have over 1000 tested recipes archived and more than 50 years of experience cooking. If you ever need advice, let me know.
I need advice,

After 30 years of cooking, how do I get out of the kitchen?
bajablue (author)  woooshhhhh2 years ago
hahaha... I don't want to get out of the kitchen... but I sure wouldn't mind getting out of doing the dishes. ;-)
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