Wednesday, April 07, 2004

So here was my doubt about the whole "velveting" thing. Velveting is a process where you coat the chicken in corn starch or egg whites or whatnot and it is supposed to keep it from drying out. The Dorky Yankees will have you marinate/brine your chicken in soy sauce/sherry/chicken stock etc., and then velvet it, and then stir fry it.

I was dubious because, well, I've never really had much of a problem with my stirfry chicken being dry. My stirfry chicken is great- I use Mark Bittman's brilliant, brilliant method for 10 minute stir-fried chicken with nuts as once outlined in an old NYT column and now available in The Minimalist Cooks At Home. (I used to have that recipe taped to the inside of the cabinet over the stove in my first apartment. It was the first thing I ever really cooked with regularity. I love it. Anyway.) My chicken has never, ever been dry.

So the extra steps seemed crazy. HOWEVER, as always, those Dorky Yankees outsmarted me. My stirfry chicken may not be dry- but is it perfectly white and tender and moist and flavorful and amazingly browned on the outside? Um, no. It is not. My brined/marinated and then velveted chicken is all of those things. And beautiful. Next time, though, I'm using hoisin sauce instead of their sauce- which, despite calling for sherry, broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, red pepper flakes, ginger, and sesame oil, was pretty bland.

They had a really brilliant tip for sauteing the pieces, too, which I am going to use on my curry coated scallops and anything else I'm sauteing in bunches. When you are sauteing a lot of different things, it's hard to remember which went in first when you need to turn them. The Dorky Yankees suggest putting the pieces of chicken (or scallops, or shrimp, or whatever) in the pan in a clockwise pattern starting at the top. And then you turn them and remove them from the pan by moving clockwise. Simple, but BRILLIANT.