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Velvet Chicken

How to prepare juicy and tender chicken pieces for your stir-fry
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Total Time12 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, easy
Keyword: asian cuisine, Basic Prep, Basic Recipe, Brunch, Chicken, chinese cuisine, chinese recipe, Chinese Recipes,, Family Dinner, Fresh, quick
Servings: 4
Author: Carole Yu


  • Cutting Board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Medium Mixing Bowl
  • Small Mixing bowl
  • Medium Pot or Wok
  • Spider/Strainer


  • 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken pieces Thighs or Breasts
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oil

Velveting in Oil

  • 2 cups oil


Seasoning The Chicken

  • Cut Chicken into 1" cubes, making each piece as uniform as possible.
  • Put chicken into a bowl, add the salt and sherry, and stir.
  • Beat the egg white in a small bowl until the gel of the egg is broken.
  • Add the egg white to the chicken, sprinkle in the cornstarch and mix well.
  • Add the tbsp of oil and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so the coating can adhere to the chicken.

Velveting in Water

  • Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium pot, and add 1 tbsp oil to "grease the liquid". Lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer.
  • Scatter in the chicken, stir to separate, and keep stirring very gently until the coating just turns white. The chicken pieces will still be pink inside, as they will be used in a stir-fry to complete the cooking. DO NOT EAT THE MEAT UNTIL IT IS COMPLETELY COOKED AFTER STIR-FRYING. Then, immediately pour into a strainer to drain. Your chicken is ready to be sir-fried.
  • The "velveting" will give the chicken a white and fluffy coating and the meat will be as soft as velvet.

Velveting in Oil

  • Velveting in oil makes the coating lustrous and prevents lumping. It also eliminates the mealiness of cornstarch. Make sure the wok or skillet is very hot before the oil goes in, so that the coated chicken does not stick to the pan. However, the oil should not be hot, or it will toughen the chicken.
  • Make sure you have everything assembled, because the meat cooks very quickly. Gather your wok, or deep pan on the stove, put your strainer over a small pot, and a pair of chopstickes, wooden spoon, spider, or spatula. SMART TIP- Don't use sharp tools such as a fork for turning the meat in the oil, because this could cause the oil to splatter.
  • Heat the wok or pot over high heat until very hot. Then, turn the heat to medium, add 2 cups of oil and heat for only 40 seconds until it is warm, about 275 degrees, or until it foams a cube of bread very slowly.
  • Give the coated chicken a big stir and scatter in the pieces quickly but gently stir them to separate them. The oil should cover every piece.
  • Lower the heat immediately if the chicken begins to sizzle; hot oil will make the velvet chicken hard and yellow.
  • When the meat turns white, in only about 30 to 45 seconds, immediately pour both the chicken and oil into a strainer, reserving the oil. Or, take the chicken out with a spider into your strainer.
  • The chicken pieces will still be pink inside, as they will be used in a stir-fry to complete the cooking. DO NOT EAT THE MEAT UNTIL IT IS COMPLETELY COOKED AFTER STIR-FRYING