The classic Chinese technique of velveting (marinating in a cornstarch-egg white mixture and then blanching in oil or water) keeps the chicken or shellfish tender and juicy. Assemble all of your ingredients for the stir-fry before you start the velveting process. Serve the stir-fry with rice or with Chinese egg noodles or fettuccine. If using noodles, cook a half pound until al dente before you begin to stir-fry. Toss the hot noodles with a little salt and a tablespoon of oil to keep them from sticking; stir them into the stir-fry just before adding the sauce.
Prepare the aromatics and sauce:
In a small dish, combine the garlic, ginger, scallion, and chile flakes; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and stock; set aside
Make the stir-fry:
Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat until very hot. Add 2 Tbs. oil; swirl to glaze the pan. Reduce the heat to medium high. Add the aromatics and stir gently until fully fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds, adjusting the heat so they foam without browning. Add the onion and leek and toss until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat so they sizzle without scorching and adding a bit more oil if needed to prevent sticking. Add the asparagus and bell pepper; sear and toss until just half-cooked, about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and toss just until it wilts. (If serving with noodles, add them now.)
Stir the lemon sauce and add it to the pan. Toss to combine, raising the heat to bring the sauce to a simmer. Fold in the velveted chicken or shellfish. Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine and pour it into the pan. Continue stirring until the sauce turns glossy, about 15 seconds, and then turn off the heat. Serve immediately on a bed of rice (unless you’ve added noodles).
nutrition information (per serving):
with 1 1/2 cups rice;
Photo: Scott Phillips