Velveted Chicken Stir-Fry with Shiitake Mushrooms and Bok Choy
To up your stir-fry game, here’s an old-school technique called “velveting.” It’s a process that makes your proteins super tender. It’s that “slippery” mouthfeel that is synonymous with Chinese takeout. This is a great dish to celebrate the lunar new year, autumn festival or any occasion. You can apply this velveting method to any stir-fry.
For the velveted chicken: Place the chicken in a medium bowl. Add the cornstarch, baking soda, oil, 2 teaspoons of water and a pinch of salt and stir into the chicken until well incorporated. Let marinate at room temperature while you do the knife work for the vegetables. Or cover the chicken and let marinate in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For the stir-fry: When ready to cook, bring about 4 inches water to a boil in a 4- to 6-quart saucepan over high heat. Add the marinated chicken, stirring gently and constantly for about 2 minutes. The chicken will start out pink, turn opaque and white, then float to the top. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon or spider and reserve until it’s time to stir-fry. You can also hold the pre-cooked chicken for a few days in the refrigerator.
Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Swirl in the oil then immediately stir in the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Stir in the mushrooms. The mushrooms will sear then start to release their moisture. Cook, stirring every 20 seconds, until the mushrooms look soft and almost ready to eat, about 2 minutes.
Add the baby bok choy and bell peppers and stir-fry until they just start to soften and pick up some color, about 30 seconds.
Add the chicken, scallions, oyster sauce, mushroom soy sauce, chicken powder and scallions and work all the sauces into the stir-fry, about 30 seconds. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Give the dish a light dusting with white pepper right before serving.