Velveting is a standard step in the preparation of numerous stir-fried chicken breast dishes. It involves coating the chicken pieces in a mixture of egg white and cornstarch and partially precooking them in warm oil or hot water. The coating and preliminary blanching give the chicken a velvety smooth texture; hence the name. Velveting does not brown the chicken; it only firms it up before a final stir-frying with other ingredients, and can be done in advance. Try making the recipe that follows for Spicy Chicken with Peanuts twice, once with velveted chicken and once with raw chicken cubes, and notice the subtle difference. Incidentally, this is not to be confused with Chicken Velvet, a totally different process used for soup.
© 1981 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.