While I am a big fan of tips that get dinner on the table faster, I also love techniques that actually make dinner better — even if that means an extra step or two. Velveting chicken for stir-frying is one instance where I don't mind putting in a little extra time and effort because the end result is so worth it. Velveting will give you tender, juicy chicken every single time you stir-fry.
What Is Velveting?
According to stir-fry expert Grace Young, velveting literally means to "pass through" oil or water. Many Chinese restaurants use oil, while home cooks use water.
How to Velvet Chicken
First the chicken is cut into bite-sized pieces. Then a mixture of egg white, cornstarch, rice vinegar, oil, and salt are combined and the chicken is coated in this mixture. The chicken is stashed in the fridge while the water or oil comes to a simmer and then the chicken pieces are quickly "passed through" the simmering water until just cooked through.
The resulting chicken is tender and succulent, similar in many ways to poached chicken. And because the chicken doesn't have an intense flavor post-velveting, you can use it in a stir-fry or anywhere you might want tender chicken pieces.
How to Use Velvet Chicken
Velveted chicken was designed for stir-fry, yes, but consider using it in other places where tender, juicy chicken pieces are welcome, like chicken noodle soup, pot pie, or even just tossed in a weeknight pasta.