Friday, June 25, 2010

Chinese style chicken techinque, water velveting and Kung Pao chicken

While browsing one of my favorite food blogs, Home Cooking in Montana, I found the technique for velveting chicken. Ellie made Kung Pao chicken using the velveting technique on the chicken and the photos made me drool. I knew right then & there that the Kitchen Witch needed to make this. One look at Ellie's site and the Husband agreed wholeheartedly. Ellie also talks about how to precook the chicken for later use, if this is something you'd like to know more about, click on over & check out her blog. You'll be happy you did!

After reviewing the technique I decided to tackle it. It was not hard at all! It involves a few little steps but all in all, really simple. But is all this really worth it? I mean I've been making stir fry chicken dishes for years, how can this velveting really make it better?

I don't really know is the short answer. Witchcraft is the logical answer. I'm sure a lot of science goes into it as well. All I can tell you is that it indeed is worth every single second of time you invest into it. The results will rival those of your favorite Chinese restaurant. Chicken so soft, so tender, so juicy that its almost unreal. How can a simple 30 minute marinade and a quick plunge into simmering water transform a lowly chicken breast into this dish of greatness? Who cares, so long as it does. And it does lovely readers, oh it really does.

The Kung Pao sauce is from Ellie as well. I really enjoyed the flavors it provided. I will admit I was dubious that only an onion and a red bell pepper would be enough vegetables, much less enough variety, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The onions weren't overpowering, rather they were almost sweet. The red bells provided beautiful color and a sweet crunch. I chose to use cashews rather than the traditional peanut here because of a peanut allergy in the family. Feel free to use whatever nut you like.

Lastly lets talk about the heat, after all, what's Kung Pao with out some heat, right? I bought 4 small long thin dried hot chilies at my Mexican grocery, it cost me a whopping .03. Yes that's 3, three cents. I crumbled up 2 of the peppers into my sauce, the 3rd was broken into a few pieces and added to the stir fry. The last was pure garnish. A bit of Sriracha in the sauce and like magic, you've got Kung Pao chicken that will make you forget the name of that little Chinese place down the street.

Kung Pao chicken using water velveting technique
makes 4 servings
You will need:
1 lb chicken breasts or thighs, boneless & skinless, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut in 1 inch dice
1-2 T oil
1 T minced garlic (+/- depending on taste)
1 T minced ginger (+/- depending on taste)
3-4 dried chilies or chili flakes
1/3 to 1/2 c cashews

Velveting Marinade
1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
1 T white wine
1 egg white
1 T cornstarch
1 T oil

Kung Pao sauce

2-4 tsp Sriracha
6 T water(or stock)
2 T white wine
2 T sugar
4 T soy sauce
1 scallion sliced thin

Apply the velveting marinade.
1. Sprinkle in the salt while stirring the meat.
2. Stir in the wine.
3. Add the egg white and gently mix to coat each piece of chicken making sure not to froth the egg.
4. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, coating each piece.
5. Add the oil and stir to coat. Let the meat marinate for 30 minutes.

Prepare other ingredients:
While the chicken marinates, prepare the other ingredients and the sauce. Have them ready.

In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce and set it aside.
Make rice if desired to serve with dish.

Velveting the chicken: Using the water method.
Bring a pot of water with just one tablespoon oil to a boil.

Once the water boils, 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 the chicken aside.

Prepare the Kung Pao:

Heat a cast iron skillet or wok over medium high heat. Once its hot add 1-2 T oil to the pan. Add the garlic and ginger, stir fry until its light brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute max. Add the vegetables, chilies and the velveted chicken. Stir fry 1-2 minutes, until the chicken is done. Add the sauce and nuts, stir to coat and thicken sauce, 30 seconds longer.

Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 393.1
Total Fat 20.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 11.2 g
Cholesterol 68.4 mg
Sodium 799.6 mg
Potassium 541.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Sugars 7.3 g
Protein 32.0 g


Ellie said...

Hi Andrea! Wow, I am so pleased you liked it as well.Thanks for trying out the recipe. I don't think I will ever go back to stir-frying without using the velveting method:).We love it that much. Your dish looks wonderful! Thanks for your sweet and kind comment. I really appreciate it! Have a great day!~Ellie

Erin @ OneParticular Kitchen said...

How have I never even heard of velveting?! It sounds magical! I am so doing this. I love the flavor when I make Chinese food at home (and the lack of sodium), but the texture is never exactly like take-out. Now I know! BRILLIANT!

Design Wine and Dine said...

This LOOKS it came from a restaurant! Anything with ginger, garlic and chili is sure to be amazing and now with this veleting....we will be making this!!! Thanks Ellie and Andrea!!!!!

Michelle said...

I've always cooked it that way, but I never knew it had such a! LOL

I can't handle the heat so I'll stick to sweeter dishes, thanks. But my husband would drool over this dish! It looks gorgeous!

StephenC said...

One of the wonderful things about following certain food blogs is the inventiveness and devil-may-care willingness to try things new and different. I've known about velveting for some time but never have tried. You've made it look so easy, it's time for me to take the plunge.

Jenn said...

I've not even heard of velveting until now. Very interesting and definitely something I'm going to try. I love kung pao and have never really found a recipe that rivals the restaurant version. I can't wait to try this one...I want something that WILL make me forget the chinese place down the street! The dish looks incredible!

Kat said...

Andrea and Ellie, thanks so much. This is one I am definitely going to try.

Staci Reynolds said...

I usually dislike Chinese restaurants. Much prefer to make Asian food as home myself--not as authentic, I know, but far tastier & less greasy from what I find. Thanks for the recipe!

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

How cool is this technique? I have been intrigued with making Chinese food at home and cannot wait to try this. I just love the word - 'velveting'. Witchcraft indeed! Have a great weekend Andrea:)

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

I have never heard of the velveting technique. It looks similar to recipes I have tried but didn't do it in steps. Sort of like breading. I will be trying this.

Michelle said...

Miss Andrea, please stop by and pick up a brand-spanking-new award. :)

Andy Thompson said...

hello, I just made this dish and the chicken turned out just perfect- super soft and tender.

Also, velveting is not a breading because all of that boils off in the water.

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