Saturday, September 28, 2013

Asian-Style Stir-Fried Chicken and Broccoli

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Recipes ideas, once in your head, are like flies that hover round a picnic table. They just won't go away until you swat them. In order to test one particularly persistent idea, I purchased one of those super-size bags of broccoli from a local warehouse store. I had good results sooner than I expected and I was left with more broccoli than I had anticipated. My creative energies had ebbed by this time, so I decided to fall back on one of the older dishes that Bob and I both enjoy. It is by no means our favorite Chinese dish, but it is one that was taught in a cooking class that I attended in Hong Kong and there are memories associated with it. Prior to that class, I had never used the cooking technique known as velveting. The technique is used to produce extraordinarily tender meat for stir-frying. It involves marinating whatever is to be stir fried in a mixture of egg white and cornstarch prior to blanching it in oil. It is blanched only until its color changes and then drained before adding it to a stir fry to finish cooking with other ingredients. Velveting helps keep the meat moist, as well as adding flavor to it. The class was a mind sticker on several levels. Chicken and Broccoli is a Chinese-American creation and not one you would generally find on a Chinese table, much less a Chinese cooking school. It was selected for the class because our hosts, ever mindful of our comfort, wanted us to have food that we were comfortable with. They really meant well. The instructor was a wonderful cook, but very proud. He refused to use a translator because he thought his language skills sufficient to teach the class. Things sometimes get lost in translation, and when he was asked why meat was velveted he said it was to get rid of bad smells. I think he meant off-flavors, but we'll never know for sure. I've eaten enough street food to know about off-flavors, but for our purposes it's best to think of velveting as a way to assure that meat or poultry cooked at high temperatures has a flavorful coating that also protects it from burning. If you enjoy Chicken and Broccoli at your local Chinese restaurant I think you'll really enjoy this home-style version of it. I promise it smells good. Here's the recipe.

Asian-Style Stir-Fried Chicken and Broccoli



2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut in 1-inch cubes

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups vegetable oil for deep frying


12 ounces broccoli flowerets, cut in bite-size pieces

2 crushed garlic cloves

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, or to taste


1) To make sauce: Combine oyster sauce, light soy, dark soy, and water in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water thickener and set aside.

2) To make chicken: Combine egg white, cornstarch and salt together in a bowl. Add chicken cubes to mixture and toss to coat all surfaces. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3) To cook chicken: Preheat a wok. Add oil and heat to 275 degrees F. Oil is ready when a piece of chicken floats. Add chicken cubes and cook until they just turn white. Remove cubes from oil as soon as they turn white. Reserve oil. Drain chicken on paper towels.

4) To cook broccoli: Set a large frying pan or another wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of chicken cooking oil. When hot, add crushed garlic and stir fry until garlic is fragrant. Add broccoli, sprinkle with sugar and salt, stir frying briefly. Be careful it doesn't burn. Add 1/2 cup water, cover pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until broccoli turns bright green and is crisp tender. Remove from pan and drain.

5) To finish: Clean out pan. Add 2 more tablespoons oil. Add broccoli and chicken, stirring and tossing to cook chicken through, about 2 to 5 minutes more. Add sauce and cornstarch mixture in the middle of the wok and stir quickly to thicken. Mix everything together and serve hot over steamed rice. Yield: 4 servings.

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