• STEP 1

    Velveting the chicken: Slice the chicken into bite-size pieces. Beat together the egg white and 1 tbsp cornflour in a bowl. Tip in the chicken and coat with the mix (see Know-how, top right). Marinate for 15-30 mins (don’t place in the fridge or the mix will harden). Now rinse the rice in a sieve under the cold tap until the water runs clear.

  • STEP 2

    Making perfect rice: Drain the rice, tip into a pan with a lid and pour over 600ml water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to the boil, then cook the rice uncovered for 10 mins or so until the water has almost boiled away and small craters appear. Cover with a lid, turn the heat down as low as it will go and cook for 10 mins more.

  • STEP 3

    Getting the ingredients ready: Strip the ginger skin with a teaspoon and finely chop until you have 1 tbsp. Halve the pepper and trim off the stalk, inner pith and seeds. Cut into bite-size pieces. Peel the shallot and garlic clove, then thinly slice. Trim the ends off the chilli, if using, removing the seeds if you like it milder, and cut into thin slices. Remove the chicken from the egg marinade and pat dry with kitchen paper.

  • STEP 4

    Foolproof stir-frying: Heat a wok and pour in 1 tbsp oil. Cook the chicken for 7-10 mins, tossing until just cooked. Set aside. Pour in some more oil if you need to. Add the pepper and cook for 1 min, then cook the ginger, shallot and garlic for 1-2 mins more. Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 50ml water and 1 tsp cornflour. Tip into the wok, then add the chicken. Cook for 1 min, stir through the basil, then serve with the rice.


Beef with noodles: Try ‘velveting’ beef strips instead of chicken. Instead of rice, soak 200g thick rice noodles according to pack instructions, then stir into the wok along with the fish sauce mixture.


Tofu with sesame seeds: Use chopped tofu instead of chicken – there’s no need to ‘velvet’ the tofu. Add mangetout along with the red pepper and sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.


Resist the temptation to add a lot of oil. Using a non-stick or well-seasoned wok and cooking over a really high heat should cut down on the amount of oil you need. If the mixture does start to stick or burn, add 1 tbsp of water instead of extra oil.


Velveting is a technique used in Asian cooking for protecting delicate meats like chicken or fish. The light marinade of egg white and cornflour provides a protective coating when cooked, stopping meat from drying out. The coating also gives it a soft, velvety texture, hence the name.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, February 2008

Goes well with


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