Tuesday, May 20, 2008


One of my first cookbooks--I have an extensive collection--The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo--introduced me to the concept of velveting. If you've ever eaten Chinese food, you can probably guess what this means. Think about the texture of the chicken in your chicken with broccoli or of the beef in your pepper steak. It's a simple process that adds an extra dimension to your dish. Try it in this simple recipe for a stir fry.

Chicken (or shrimp) Stir Fry
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt

1 lb chicken (boneless, skinless breast or thigh) OR shrimp (shelled, deveined)
1-2 tbs vegetable or canola oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbs fresh ginger, chopped
2 large crowns broccoli, separated into florets
2 carrots, cut on the diagonal
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
3 tbs cooking sherry
1 tbs flour dissolved in 2 tbs water
1/4 cup cashews

2 cups cooked rice

To velvet the chicken (or shrimp):
Whisk the cornstarch and egg whites together and add the salt. Add the chicken and let stand for about 20 minutes. You can leave it in the refrigerator longer, if you wish.

To complete the dish:
Heat the oil in a wok or in a large, heavy skillet with high sides. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Remove from oil and set aside in a large bowl. Add chicken (or shrimp) and stir fry until meat is cooked through and opaque (do not overcook). Remove and combine with garlic and ginger that you set aside. Stir fry the broccoli and carrots for about 4 minutes. Return the chicken and garlic/ginger mixture to the pan. In a mixing bowl combine the teriyaki sauce, sherry, flour, and water. Whisk together and add to the pan, bring to a boil as you stir (to thicken sauce). Top with the cashews. Serve over rice.

Notice the texture of the meat!!!

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