How Do The Chinese Restaurants Get Their Chicken So Tender???
I have tried thin slicing, pounding, marinating, you name it! I just can't seem to get even close the the moist tender chicken pieces that I have had at numerous Chinese Restaurants.
Does anybody have any insight into how they do it?
Have you tried massaging a little baking powder into a bowl of chicken and letting it sit ten minutes? That's how they get a lot of meat really soft and tender. Don't let it sit too long, it becomes slimy because the meat breaks down.
Proportions are to taste, but I'd start with 1/4 tsp per cup of meat.
Corn starch. After marinating medium sized pieces in something lightly acidic (incorporating vinegar or lemon juice), drain, pat dry, then toss lightly in corn starch and pan fry.
Teriyaki marinade (NOT glaze) of equal parts shoyu, rice vinegar and water w/sugar, garlic, onion and/or ginger, is good. Black bean sauce is good - fermented black beans and garlic with rice vinegar is good. Even plain lemon juice with a some s&p. If you're making a stir-fry, mix the corn starch into the remaining marinade, and stir some in at the end (after chicken and veg are done).
And don't forget the MSG...
I'm not sure corn starch contributes to the tenderness. I think it does to the outside texture, defininitely, and contributes to that silkiness of the texture.
The tenderness of the meat, as one person mentioned, I imagine comes from a bit of baking powder that they sprinkle on and let it sit in a bit. Then they do the normal cornstarch thing.
Just my opinion...
re: Jim H.
Definitely baking soda. A sparse marinade of:
1 T corn starch,
1/2 tsp baking soda,
1 T soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 T olive or canola oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 T red or white wine, or sherry if you have it.
pepper or herb seasonings at your preference
Toss meat with marinade about 4 hours before cooking, not too far ahead. You can substitute the soy sauce and sesame out of the recipe if you are using tough cuts of meat for other dishes, like beef stew. Just use strong broth or worcestershire instead.
Works like a charm.
I'm not sure what you mean by "chicken pieces". Small pieces of chicken stir fried very lightly will be tender. Whole breasts are usually poached, and never overcooked. I would not even try to tenderize chicken, unless you've got an old rooster to deal with. There is no secret...just don't overcook chicken, keeping in mind that it keeps cooking off the stove.
The type of prep ultimately depends on the specific dish, but I'm assuming that you're just talking about sliced chicken breast for a basic stir-fry. I'm not sure what the restaurants do exactly, but I know what I do and my chicken turns out relatively tender and silky. Here are some general tips:
1. Slice chicken thinly against the grain. I don't like long, thin pieces but rather shorter, oblong pieces.
2. Place pieces in bowl and mix in a little cornstarch and shaoxing. Sometimes I add soy sauce. Let marinate (not too long) while you prep veggies.
3. Get wok blazing hot, add oil, quickly stir-fry chicken pieces til just opaque but slightly underdone. This goes fast. Don't overcook! Remove.
4. Now fry your veggies in the proper order w/ your seasonings and such. Add chicken when veggies are done just til it warms through and marries w/ sauce and veggies.
re: Carb Lover
here's what my mom does . . . I guess it's the velveting thing, but it's sooo good and tender. There are surely some chemical reactions at work here, with all that resting time
2 whole breasts in strips 1 1/2" - 2" x 1/2"
(I tend to ignore those dimension and just cut the thing up, and I use thighs or breasts, very incorrectly)
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper (I like a little extra pepper)
TOSS with chicken, let stand 20 minutes
4 t cornstarch, 4 t oil
TOSS with chicken, let stand 20 minutes
FOLD in 1 unbeaten egg white
let stand 30 minutes
stir fry in a little oil - maybe make a little sauce with soy sauce etc
good with snow peas and esp good with a bunch of basil