Velvet Chicken. Sexy name. Great dish. Classic technique. I wouldn’t call this entry-level Chinese cookery—it’s 201 course work—but any novice can produce a stellar version of this dish because it’s so easy to execute. The boiling of the marinated meat in oil results in a velvety texture that is the hallmark of this simple stir-fry. This is Cantonese cooking at its most elegant and your family will love you for it.


  • Chicken
    • 1 large egg whites
    • 1 tablespoon toban djan (chili bean paste)
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon rice wine or sake
    • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Sauce
    • 1 tbsps rice wine or sake
    • 1 tablespoon black bean sauce
    • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • Aromatics
    • ½ cup minced scallions
    • 1.5 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, finely grated
    • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
    • 1 ½ small dried red hot chiles
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • ½ lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces


1. Chicken marinade: In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the toban djan, salt, 2 tablespoons of the rice wine and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch. Add the chicken and toss well, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of peanut oil to 375°. Using a large slotted spoon, very carefully add one-third of the chicken to the hot oil and fry, stirring, until nearly cooked through and browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a paper towel-line baking sheet to drain. Repeat two more times with the remaining chicken. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the frying oil.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of rice wine with the black bean sauce, sugar, soy sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
4. In a wok or large skillet, heat the reserved 2 tablespoons of frying oil. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic and dried chiles and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and asparagus and stir-fry until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the black bean sauce mixture and stir-fry for 1 minute. Transfer to a platter and serve.


Really only need to make half a recipe - with rice, that's still 3 full-size Evan meals.




Andrew Zimmern






Asian : East Asian : Cantonese



preparation times

• Active: 45 Minutes
• Total Time: 2 Hours 45 Minutes


- Wok