Veteran Move #7: Velveting

Velveting is a technique in Chinese cooking that guaranteed moist, tender meat in stir fried recipes. I use a variation in the dishes featured in this blog.
Velveting is a technique in Chinese cooking that guarantees moist, tender meat in stir fried recipes. I use a variation of this tried and true technique in the dishes featured in this blog.

Here’s a secret every Chinese cook keeps that makes stir fry crispier and sauces in noodle dishes thicker, richer and more creamy. As well, this Veteran Move guarantees juicier meat that is also more tender. It’s called velveting and mastering it will immediately up your game in the kitchen when stir frying beef, pork chicken or even when fish is called for.

In the early days of my cooking career I could never understand how dishes served in Chinese restaurants delivered such tender, moist meat even though budget cuts were being used. Try as I might I always served dried out, overcooked dishes that I just didn’t enjoy. Then I came across a few recipes that had me add cornstarch to beef and chicken and stir fry both in a combination of oil and water before finishing the dish in a stir fry of vegetables and/or in a sauce. As I used the technique I started to enjoy the results more and more.

So, I did some research and stumbled across velveting. While I admit most of my recipes call for what I might call ‘partial velvet’ I have tried the full technique as described by seriouseats.com and I urge you to give this move a try. Whether you choose the more traditional route or, if you decide to follow my partial technique, I know you’ll be happy.

I start by seasoning my meat with some kosher salt and good ground pepper
I start by seasoning my meat with some kosher salt and good ground pepper
I like to sprinkle some cornstarch onto my seasoned meat and mix it thoroughly to ensure even coverage.
I like to sprinkle some cornstarch onto the seasoned meat and mix it thoroughly to ensure even coverage.
Chinese chefs add cornstarch to a mixture of egg white and rice wine vinegar then marinate the meat in that mixture for about 30 minutes. Once that’s done they’ll partially stir fry the meat to get it ready to add to finished dishes.
I'll add seasoned meat that's been 'cornstarched' to a marinade that may actually be a sauce for a finished dish. Then I'll stir fry that meat to brown it.
Often, I’ll add seasoned meat that’s been ‘cornstarched’ to a marinade that may actually be the base for a sauce for a finished dish.
Once it’s been ‘cornstarched’ I’ll stir fry the meat to thoroughly brown it.
That’s different from what will be done in a Chinese restaurant but it works!
I let meat marinate for at least 30 minutes once it's been partially cornstarched.
I let meat marinate for at least 30 minutes once it’s been partially cornstarched.
Remember, in a good Chinese restaurant this will be a mixture of cornstarch, egg white and rice wine vinegar
I brown meat in one or two table spoons of  vegetable oil with a tablespoon of water.
I brown meat in one or two table spoons of vegetable oil with a tablespoon of water.
In a Chinese restaurant the meat will be quickly blanched in an oil bath, then set aside for use in a dish later.
My version of velveting creates a sort of cornstarch crust that keeps the meat moist and tender but will thicken any sauce once it's added
I will brown the meat till all the pink disappears and hold it in reserve to finish the dish later. Usually the dish will involve a sauce.
My version of velveting creates a sort of cornstarch crust that keeps the meat moist and tender but will thicken any sauce once it’s added.

One thought on “Veteran Move #7: Velveting

  1. Pingback: Quick Beef and Broccoli with Peppers | VeteranMovesforMenIntheKitchen.com

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