There are so many delicious meals that you can order at a Chinese take out place but the one dish that I have loved since I was a teenager was chicken and broccoli. It was the first thing I ever ordered from a Chinese take out place and I recently had it again a couple weeks ago. The chicken breast was insanely tender, the broccoli had the right amount of crunch, and I love everything tossed in a good white sauce. Throw it all over some hot white rice and I'm set.
Recently I had both chicken breast and broccoli in my fridge and decided to make it for dinner but my chicken didn't turn out as tender and juicy and I had overcooked my broccoli. I thought to myself, well this is why we order take out but because I'm stubborn I decided to keep trying. Time after time, I kept coming across the same issues so I decided to do some research and came across a technique called "velveting". Velveting your meat allows you to cook it on high heat for a longer amount of time without it drying out. It's pretty simple. All you do is add a little bit of water and a touch of corn starch to the chicken breast. Give it a mix and allow the slurry to cling to the chicken as well as absorb the water. When you cook the chicken the juices don't leak out of the chicken and into the sauce. Instead it clings on the chicken and keeps it tender. Cool, right?
As for the broccoli, toss it right into the pan the second you flip your chicken. Lid it up and let it steam for 3 minutes. Uncover, add your sauce and there you have it. Perfectly chicken & broccoli! Now, I make chicken and broccoli anytime I want and it tastes exactly like my favorite take out place. Give my recipe a try and let me know what you think. What's your favorite take out dish? Maybe I can come up with an at home recipe for you!
Classic Chicken & Broccoli Take Out
1/2 cup of chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon of chicken powder
Salt & white pepper to taste
1 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch
1 chicken breast
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of water
½ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of shaoxing or cooking wine
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of oil
1 head of broccoli
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small knob of ginger, minced
In a bowl, mix together the chicken stock/water, chicken powder, salt, pepper, cornstarch. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Then cut your chicken breast into thin slices by going against the grain. Add your sliced chicken breast to a clean bowl along with cornstarch, water, salt, and shaoxing wine. Mix until the water has been absorbed.
Lastly, add in a drizzle of sesame oil and mix again. Set aside.
Next, cut the florets off your broccoli and place to the side.
Get a large pan or wok to high heat and drop in 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer, give your chicken breast one more mix and drop it into the pan. Spread out so everything cooks evenly.
After 1 minute, flip the chicken over and immediately add the broccoli florets, garlic and ginger. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 more minutes.
Grab the cornstarch slurry you made earlier and give it a mix because the cornstarch has most likely settled. Pour the mixture right into the pan and let that come to a boil to thicken.
Give everything a quick toss to make sure everything is coated in the sauce and serve with hot white rice!
Make sure you add the sesame oil last when you are velevitzing your chicken slices. You want the cornstarch slurry to stick to the chicken. If you add sesame oil before, the cornstarch slurry won't stick to the chicken. In fact it creates a barrier around the chicken breast, making for a drier end result. With chicken I love a white sauce but with beef I love a brown sauce. However, if you like a brown sauce with your chicken I would add soy sauce to the cornstarch water mixture and omit the salt. I use water as the base for the sauce but you can use chicken stock. I use water to get that clear white sauce look but if you want more flavor and don't mind a yellow-er color to your sauce, I'd say go for it! There are many different methods of velveting your meat but this is the one that works well for me. As I go along learning more about asian cooking I will introduce other methods.