Velveting. Does it really make a difference? This cook says, Yes, I believe it does!
Let me back up just a minute...Velveting is a technique in Chinese cuisine for preserving the moisture of meat while cooking. Additionally, it provides soft or "velvety" texture to the meat of any entree.
When I first saw this technique showcased on Andrea The Kitchen Witch's site, I was skeptic. I mean, what does this technique really do to make such a difference in a simple stir fry? Andrea raved about how tender the chicken is..how velvety it truly was. I trust Andrea's judgment, so it was time to find out for myself. Am I sold? Yes I am! The chicken was so smooth and tender and melt in your mouth good. It was just as velvety as Andrea claimed! I loved it. I hate to say it, but I will not be doing stir fry another way from here on out. Oh, and let's not forget the completed product.....it was delicious! I loved the simplicity of the sauce.. I might add just a touch of hoisin next time, but otherwise: simple, delicious, a must try!
Kung Pao Chicken
Adapted from Andrea the Kitchen Witch
1 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1-2 Tablespoons oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cashews
Velveting Marinade -
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon chicken stock
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon oil (I used vegetable oil)
The sauce -
4 teaspoons Sriracha
6 Tablespoons chicken stock
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
Placed the cut up meat in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and add chicken stock, stirring to combine. Add the egg white and gently mix to coat each piece of chicken making sure not to froth the egg. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and toss to coat. Add the oil and stir one last time. Let the meat marinate for 30 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating, prepare the other ingredients and the sauce. You want to have everything ready, once the stuff goes in the skillet/wok, things are going to move fast. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
When chicken is done marinating; bring a pot of water with one tablespoon of oil to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Scatter in the marinated chicken, stir to separate and keep stirring gently until the coating turns white. Remove the chicken pieces quickly with a slotted spoon or strainer. Set chicken aside.
Heat a skillet or wok over medium high heat. Once it is hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Add the red pepper and continue cooking another 2 minutes. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and stir fry 1 minute. Add the chicken and stir fry 1-2 minutes, or until chicken is done. Add the sauce and let simmer about 1 minute or until the sauce thickens. Add the green onions and the cashews; stirring to combine. Serve over rice and enjoy!