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I had this chicken that was extremely soft at a thai restaurant in Portland, Or. The cashew nut chicken dish had small strips of extremely soft chicken.

As you can see, the chicken is not cripsy or seared, it is just cooked in some fashion that makes it extremely soft.

Any ideas on how to reproduce?

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That chicken has been "velveted". The technique is to briefly marinate the chicken chunks in a mixture of egg whites and cornstarch. The result is delicious, very soft chicken. It's a simple technique, great for stir-fried dishes and soups. There are several variations, so here are a bunch of them.

The simplest is to mix 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch into 1 egg white. Marinate thin slices of chicken (breast meat is most commonly used) in the mixture for 30 minutes. Drain the chicken by just letting the marinade slip through your fingers. Now just treat the chicken however you care to cook it; stir-fried, deep-fried or poached are all commonly seen. For something so simple, the result is really quite dramatic.

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That's interesting, any idea why velveting would cause the chicken to be more tender? I don't quite understand why it would have that effect – jalbee Jan 8 '14 at 0:59
I don't understand it either, but I do know that it works. – Jolenealaska Jan 8 '14 at 2:10
@jalbee It doesn't really answer the question, but here's what Serious Eats has to say on the topic.… – Jolenealaska Jan 8 '14 at 2:36

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