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Velveted Chicken or Shrimp

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  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 28

This recipe prepares chicken or fish to be tender and juicy when stir-fried. It is not a finished dish but a great start for a stir-fry.

  • 1 large or extra-large egg white
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. good-quality Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. fresh skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in cubes, nuggets, or shreds; or 1 lb. shrimp or scallops (or a combination), shrimp butterflied, scallops halved if large
  • 4 cups water (for velveting in water) or 3 to 4 cups corn, peanut, or canola oil (for velveting in oil)

In a mini food processor, blend the egg white, salt, wine, and cornstarch until thick and smooth, about 2 minute. Or mix the ingredients by hand, smoothing lumps with your fingers and beating with a fork to thicken slightly.

With your hands, toss the chicken or fish with the marinade to evenly coat and separate the pieces. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

In a wok or stir-fry pan, bring the water to a steaming, near simmer, or bring the oil to the slow-fry stage, 275°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Next to the stove, set a plate big enough to hold the fish or chicken in a single layer. Have a large Chinese mesh skimmer at hand.

Toss the chicken or fish once more and slide it into the hot water or oil, leaving any excess marinade behind. Stir gently with chopsticks to separate the pieces. Watch carefully to see when the outside turns 95% white, 5 to 10 seconds for shreds or tiny cubes, 30 to 45 seconds for larger nuggets. Scoop out the food promptly with the mesh spoon and quickly spread it on the plate.

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