Velveting: The secret to restaurant quality Chinese chicken

Nut Tree Chicken Almond Plate leftovers. Original
presentation includes properly molded rice, of course.

Almonds, blanched and French fried.

Water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, sugar peas, prepped.

Chicken cubed. Oranges sliced. Rice ready for molding. Yes, I said molding.

It’s hard enough to recreate recipes, let alone recreate recipes that live up to someone else’s childhood memories.

Case in point: Mr. T’s beloved Nut Tree Chicken Almond Plate.

I shared the recipe a couple years ago after T found me a vintage Sacramento cookbook. (The Nut Tree was a frequent haunt during his childhood complete with airport, train and restaurant.) But for the last several cooking attempts, he’s complained (gently) that the chicken wasn’t white enough.

White enough??

Yes, white enough.

So before I tried round four, I made the silliest ever google search: “chinese stir fry white chicken”

BAM. The secret to super tender and oddly white chicken in Chinese and other Asian cuisine: velveting.

Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either, but it’s basically coating the chicken in a bit of cornstarch and egg white (maybe with some rice wine), and then blanching it ever so briefly in hot oil.

The recipe I followed was: mix 1 pound cubed chicken breast in a concoction of corn starch (1 tablespoon) and a large egg white. Let sit for 30 minutes. Then in two cups (yes, cups) of hot peanut or vegetable oil, cook in batches for 30 seconds or until turning white. Then add to stir fry recipe as normal, making sure to cook through.

I’m still a fan of the less-fat-filled and more flavorful searing, but I must admit, the chicken was damn good and earned T’s seal of approval.



National Blog Posting Month:
Day 1- National Blog Posting Month on BlogHer: I’m in
Day 2- Project Green Thumbs Season 5, winter edition!
Day 3- Things I’d rather do instead of “killing my darlings”

Day 4- A grateful heart: A man who understands writing deadlines

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