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What is Velveting Chicken?


Raw Chicken Breast
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Question: What is Velveting Chicken?

First, let's start by eliminating any confusion. Velveting chicken is not the same as Chicken Velvet. Chicken Velvet is a mixture of minced chicken breast, egg white and liquid that is either added to soup or deep-fried.

Velveting chicken, on the other hand, is a Chinese cooking technique used in stir-frying. The chicken breast is coated in a mixture of egg white and cornstarch (rice wine or dry sherry and salt are frequently added), marinated for up to 30 minutes, and then cooked very briefly in hot oil until the color turns to white. After velveting, the chicken is added to the stir-fry, to finish cooking with the other ingredients.

Simple Steps to Velvet Chicken

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups vegetable or peanut oil
1. Chop the chicken into 3/4 - 1-inch cubes. In a bowl, stir together the the egg white and cornstarch. Add the egg white mixture to the chicken cubes, tossing or using your fingers to coat the chicken in the mixture. Marinate the chicken in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Lay out paper towels or get a colander ready to drain the chicken after cooking. Heat 2 cups oil in a preheated wok until the oil reaches 275 degrees Fahrenheit. (Test the heat by placing a piece of chicken in the wok - it should float immediately). Add the chicken cubes, and let cook until they just turn white (about 30 seconds), using a wooden spoon or chopsticks to gently separate them. Quickly remove the chicken cubes from the wok as soon as they turn white, and drain in a colander or on paper towels.
3. Finish cooking the velveted chicken by stir-frying with the vegetables, tossing and stirring to make sure the chicken is cooked through.

What are the Advantages of Velveting Chicken?

Velveting chicken in the egg white and cornstarch mixture prevents it from overcooking and becoming dry. As the name implies, it also gives the chicken a smooth, velvety texture. The oil from the velveting can be saved and used to stir-fry other chicken dishes.

Make Ahead Velveted Chicken

The first stage of the velveting process can be completed earlier in the day. After preparing the egg white mixture and coating the chicken cubes, store the chicken in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use. All that's left is to cook the chicken cubes in the hot oil and add them to the stir-fry.

When Should You Velvet Chicken?

Since the velveting mixture lacks the variety of seasonings that are usually found in a chicken marinade (such as oyster sauce and soy sauce) this technique works best with stir-fries that are highly seasoned, such as Kung Pao Chicken. Otherwise, the dish may taste rather bland.

What Other Foods Can be Velveted?

Velveting beef before stir-frying helps make it more tender - be sure to cook the beef in batches if needed so as not to overcrowd the wok. Shrimp is often velveted as well.

Ready to give it a try?

Chicken breasts are velveted in this recipe for Broccoli Chicken

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