Use The Velveting Technique When Stir-Frying

Ever find that you can't completely replicate the tender moist silkiness of restaurant stir-fried meats in your own wok? Most Chinese restaurants use a technique called velveting to ensure meat stays tender during the high temperatures used in a proper stir-fry. The technique refers to coating the meat with a mixture of cornflour, egg whites, wine and other seasoning.

Culinary site recommends that you marinate the meat overnight in the mixture then poach the marinated cubes of meat gently for 20-30 seconds. This creates a seal between the outer mixture and the meat within that will keep the meat moist and tender during the high heat of the stir-fry.

Is velveting worth the additional work? After all, one of the primary benefits of stir-fry is ease of throwing meals together quickly. Another culinary weblog, Serious Eats, has this to say:

Learning how to velvet meat is as integral to Chinese cooking as say, browning meat is for the French or Italian. Meat that is stir-fried, boiled, or steamed without the protective layer of cornflour could still be tender, but not nearly as silky as meat that's been velveted. More likely than not, the meat that you're eating at a Chinese restaurant has been velveted prior to being deep-fried, stir-fried, or steamed.

I'm sold. Next time I plan a stir-fry in advance I'll give this technique a try and report how it went in the comments below.

Velveting Meat []


    I've had enough well-browned French meat with the consistency of shoe-leather to make me question the usefulness of this analogy.

      The real trick is soda bicarbonate. About half teaspoon per 500g meat, mixed in with a little water then marinade the meat with this, plus whatever other seasoning you desire (soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and a bit of sugar is great for beef). Overnight is best, but even just 15-30 mins makes all the difference. Don't overdo the soda bicarbonate or it will taste bitter.

      Slice the beef really thinly beforehand, start with a properly heated pan or wok, and don't overcook! Cook veg separately and toss together with meat at the last minute. That poaching thing might work, but is fairly unnecessary in my book if you cook the meat just as much as it needs and absolutely no more.

    Am I strange for NOT liking velveted meat? It makes it all rubbery and taste strange, in my humble opinion.

    Well at least I now have a name to put to the weird (to me) texture of meat in a well cooked Asian dish. Velveted.... cool :-)

    I'm a vegetarian, so I don't know how this would go for meat, but a quick cheat's way of doing this with tofu is to toss cubes of tofu in cornflour first, then stir fry it for a couple of minutes with all your sauces before adding the veggies.

    I just roll the meat in cornflour and a bit of pepper before stirfrying. Seems to work.

      I coat the meat in a little oyster sauce then the cornflour. Makes the chilli and garlic stick to the meat. Yum!

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