In this recipe the chicken is “velveted” in egg white and cornstarch, giving it a velvety texture that contrasts nicely with the broccoli.
INGREDIENTS | SERVES 3 to 4
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 pound broccoli
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 cups vegetable or peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes. In a bowl, stir together the cornstarch, egg white, ½ teaspoon salt, and rice wine or sherry. Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Blanch in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, until the broccoli turns bright green. Plunge the broccoli into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly.
In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, water, and brown sugar. Set aside.
Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Stir-fry the chicken cubes until they turn white (about 30 seconds), using a spatula to separate the cubes. Remove from the wok and drain in a colander or on paper towels.
Remove all but 1½ tablespoons oil from the wok or skillet. When the oil is hot, add the minced ginger. Stir-fry for 10 seconds, then add the broccoli and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the chicken. Stir-fry the chicken for 1 minute, then add the sauce. Cook for another minute, mixing everything together. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Serve hot.
Chicken breasts play a prominent role in Chinese stir-fry dishes. The firm flesh of breast meat holds up well under the tossing and stirring needed for stir-frying. Breast meat can be dry though, so Chinese cooks frequently “velvet” the chicken by coating it in an unbeaten egg white and cornstarch mixture before cooking. The egg white coats the chicken, protecting it from the heat of the stir-fry pan.