Velveting Meat

Velveting meat is a common practice in Chinese cooking to tenderize meat prior to cooking. It ensures that the meat comes out nice and juicy.

The great thing about this approach is that it works very effectively with cheaper, tough cuts of meat. This enables you to whip up solid meat dishes pretty inexpensively.


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The process of velveting meat entails:

  1. Cut the meat into a size suitable for a stir fry. Think something that is at most large enough to fit in a single bite. Also make sure to cut across the grain of the meat rather than with the grain of the meat.

  2. Place the cut meat in a bowl.

  3. Spoon on some corn starch and Xiaoxing cooking wine. I usually use about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of wine for 1 pound of meat. In practice, I often just eyeball these proportions. You can also throw in some seasonings at this point if you want, like soy sauce or salt.

  4. Give everything a solid stirring. Once everything is evenly coating, it’s ready for the stir fry with some oil. Some other recipes on this topic call for deep frying the meat, but I find that stir frying tends to be sufficient and also creates much less of a mess.


Cutting across the grain

This is probably suitable for a more detailed separate post at some future date.

How you cut meat for stir fry is a key factor to keeping the meat tender.

Think of meat as a collection of threads.

If you cut with the grain of the meat, you’ll end up with long threads of meat. This makes the meat potentially tough and chewy.

If you cut across the grain of the meat, you end up breaking down the meat during the cutting process, which allows the meat to come apart more easily while you’re eating it.