Why Is Chinese Chicken So Juicy?

The secret behind this delectable quality lies in the traditional Chinese cooking method known as velveting. When preparing proteins like beef, pork, or chicken, Chinese chefs make it a point to velvet the meat before stir-frying it, ensuring an incredibly succulent and flavorful outcome. Velveting involves marinating the meat with alkaline ingredients, which effectively tenderizes even the cheapest, toughest cuts. This ingenious technique not only enhances the taste and juiciness of the chicken but also creates a delightful melt-in-your-mouth experience that’s sure to leave your taste buds yearning for more. Discovering the secrets behind why Chinese chicken is so juicy opens a world of culinary delight and allows you to recreate the mouthwatering dishes that have made Chinese cuisine so renowned across the globe.

Why Is Chinese Chicken Squishy?

Chinese chicken is often described as squishy because of it’s unique texture. In most cases, the chicken isn’t processed to achieve this texture; instead, it’s the result of a marinade that utilizes common household ingredients.

One common marinade used in Chinese cuisine is a combination of soy sauce, cornstarch, and sometimes egg white. The soy sauce adds a savory flavor, while the cornstarch acts as a tenderizer, helping to break down the proteins in the chicken. The addition of egg white helps to create a velvety texture, adding to the perceived squishiness.

The process involves marinating the chicken in this mixture for a period of time, allowing the flavors to infuse and the tenderizing agents to work their magic. After marinating, the chicken is usually stir-fried or deep-fried to seal in the flavors and create a crispy exterior. It’s this combination of marinade and cooking technique that gives Chinese chicken it’s unique texture.

Chinese cuisine is incredibly diverse, and depending on the region and style of cooking, you may encounter a wide variety of textures and cooking methods. Some Chinese dishes feature crispy, fried chicken, while others may have a more tender and juicy texture.

Instead, it’s a result of a well-crafted marinade that utilizes common household ingredients to enhance the flavor and texture of the dish.

How to Properly Marinate Chicken for a Squishy Chinese Texture

  • Choose boneless chicken pieces
  • Wash the chicken thoroughly
  • Pat dry the chicken using a paper towel
  • Marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, and ginger
  • Add a pinch of salt and sugar to enhance the flavors
  • Cover the marinated chicken and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
  • For a squishy texture, add some cornstarch to the marinade
  • Massage the chicken gently to ensure the marinade penetrates evenly
  • Leave the chicken to marinate for a further 30 minutes
  • You can also add garlic, sesame oil, or Chinese five-spice powder for more flavor
  • Once marinated, the chicken is ready to be stir-fried, grilled, or used in your favorite Chinese recipe

In addition to it’s distinct taste, Chinese chicken is often identified by it’s tougher texture compared to western breeds. However, this texture difference is complemented by a much richer flavor that sets Chinese chicken apart. One might wonder why Chinese chickens have a noticeably different color, showcasing a vibrant yellow skin. The answer lies in their corn-fed diet, as the carotene found in corn is responsible for this striking hue.

Why Is Chinese Chicken So Different?

Chinese chicken is renowned for it’s unique taste and texture, setting it apart from it’s Western counterparts. One key factor contributing to it’s distinctiveness is the breed of chicken used. Chinese chickens tend to be tougher than their Western counterparts, giving them a more robust and chewy texture. This difference in texture creates a memorable mouthfeel that’s cherished by many culinary enthusiasts.

Chinese chickens have a unique diet primarily consisting of corn. It’s this corn-based diet that imparts a distinctive flavor to the meat, making it more flavorful and succulent. The carotene found in corn is responsible for giving the chickens skin a vibrant yellow hue. This vibrant yellow color not only adds visual appeal to the dish but also indicates the presence of enhanced flavor due to the chickens specialized diet.

It contributes to the juiciness and tenderness of the meat, making it a delight to consume.

This, combined with their tougher texture, provides a unique and memorable dining experience.

Traditional Chinese Cooking Methods for Chicken

Traditional Chinese cooking methods for chicken include techniques such as braising, poaching, and stir-frying. These methods are often used to bring out the natural flavors of the chicken and create a delicious and tender dish. Braising involves slowly simmering the chicken in a flavorful liquid, such as soy sauce or a combination of herbs and spices, until it’s cooked through and the flavors have melded together. Poaching involves gently simmering the chicken in a liquid, such as broth or water, until it’s cooked through and tender. Stir-frying involves quickly cooking the chicken in a hot pan with oil, usually along with various vegetables, sauces, and seasonings. These cooking methods are popular in Chinese cuisine and result in flavorful and aromatic chicken dishes that are enjoyed by many.

Chinese takeaways commonly use real chicken in their dishes. While the type of chicken used may not always be boneless, skinless, or solely white breast meat, it’s nevertheless a part of the chicken. Chinese cooks often prefer to utilize dark meat due to it’s richer flavor and ability to retain moisture when cooked.

Do Chinese Takeaways Use Real Chicken?

Chinese takeaways generally do use real chicken in their dishes. When the menu explicitly states “chicken,” it means that the kitchen is indeed utilizing chicken meat. However, it’s important to note that the chicken used in Chinese cuisine may not be boneless, skinless, or exclusively comprised of white breast meat. Chinese chefs often prefer to incorporate dark meat into their recipes due to it’s richer flavor and ability to retain moisture, which prevents the meat from becoming dry during the cooking process.

The utilization of dark meat in Chinese cuisine isn’t a reflection of the authenticity or quality of the chicken used. On the contrary, it’s an intentional choice made by experienced Chinese cooks to enhance the flavor and texture of their dishes. Dark meat, such as chicken thighs or drumsticks, tend to be juicier and more succulent, adding depth and complexity to the overall dish.

The Different Cuts of Chicken Commonly Used in Chinese Takeaways and Their Qualities.

  • Boneless chicken breast: Tender and lean, ideal for stir-frying or grilling.
  • Chicken thighs: Juicy and flavorful, great for braising or deep-frying.
  • Chicken wings: Perfect for frying or baking, known for their crispy texture.
  • Chicken drumsticks: Moist and succulent, excellent for oven roasting or grilling.
  • Chicken breast with bone: Well-suited for simmering in soups or stews, retains it’s flavor.
  • Chicken feet: Often used for making rich and collagen-filled broth in soups.
  • Chicken gizzards: Have a chewy texture, commonly stir-fried or used in soups.
  • Chicken liver: Offers a distinct taste and is commonly sautéed or used in pâtés.
  • Chicken heart: Small and tender, often marinated and grilled on skewers.

Source: Why does the meat in Chinese food not acually look like …

As a result of this double-cooking method, Chinese chicken often becomes chewy in texture. This practice involves cutting the chicken into smaller pieces, battering and precooking it, before subjecting it to a second round of cooking. Unfortunately, during this process, overcooking tends to occur frequently, leading to the less desirable texture that many people experience when consuming Chinese-style chicken dishes.

Why Is Chinese Chicken So Chewy?

When it comes to Chinese chicken, one common complaint that often arises is it’s chewy texture. While there could be various factors contributing to this consistency, one key reason is the cooking process involved. Chinese chicken is typically cut, battered, and precooked before it reaches our plates. This initial precooking stage can already impact the tenderness of the meat.

Following the precooking process, the battered chicken is then cooked again by the individual preparing the dish. This second cooking step, known as stir-frying or deep-frying, aims to give the chicken it’s characteristic crispy exterior. However, if not done with caution, it can lead to overcooking, resulting in a chewy and rubbery texture.

The issue lies in the timing and temperature control during the recooking phase. If the cook isn’t attentive or fails to adjust the heat properly, the chicken can be left on the heat for too long, causing it to become excessively chewy. Overcooking can cause the proteins in the meat to become tightly bound, resulting in a denser and tougher texture that’s less enjoyable to consume.

It’s essential to use high-quality chicken, preferably fresh and not frozen, to ensure a tender and juicy outcome. If lower-quality chicken or poultry that’s been frozen is used, it can have a firmer and less tender texture even after cooking.

To mitigate the chewiness issue, chefs and cooks need to pay close attention to the cooking time, temperature, and the quality of the chicken used. Through precise cooking techniques, such as monitoring the heat, maintaining a shorter cooking time, and using fresh, high-quality chicken, it’s possible to achieve a more tender and succulent Chinese chicken dish.

Tips and Tricks for Achieving a Crispy Exterior While Maintaining a Tender Interior in Chinese Chicken Dishes

  • Marinate the chicken in a mixture of cornstarch, soy sauce, and cooking wine before cooking.
  • Coat the chicken with a thin layer of cornstarch before frying or stir-frying.
  • Use high heat and a shallow amount of oil when cooking the chicken.
  • Consider using a wok or a cast iron skillet for better heat distribution.
  • Avoid overcrowding the pan or wok, cook the chicken in batches if necessary.
  • Fry the chicken until it turns golden brown and crispy on the outside.
  • After frying, drain the excess oil by placing the chicken on a paper towel.
  • For stir-fried dishes, add the chicken towards the end of the cooking process to maintain it’s tenderness.
  • Finish cooking the chicken by simmering it in the sauce or adding it to the stir-fried vegetables.
  • Serve the Chinese chicken dish immediately to maintain the crispiness of the exterior.

Velveting is a technique that’s been used for centuries to enhance the texture and taste of chicken. By marinating the chicken in a combination of ingredients such as soy sauce, egg whites, and cornstarch, the meat becomes tender and moist when cooked. Additionally, velveting acts as a protective barrier when the chicken is stir-fried, resulting in juicy and succulent pieces every time. This simple yet powerful method is the key to achieving restaurant-quality chicken at home.

What Does Velveting Do to Chicken?

Velveting is a technique used in cooking to enhance the texture and moisture level of chicken. By marinating the chicken in a mixture of egg whites, cornstarch, and a touch of oil, the meat undergoes a transformative process. The marinade helps to tenderize the meat and create a protective barrier that prevents moisture loss during cooking. As a result, the chicken becomes incredibly tender and juicy.

The marinade acts as a flavor enhancer, infusing the chicken with a subtle taste that complements various recipes and seasonings. Whether stir-frying, grilling, or even deep-frying the chicken, velveting ensures that each bite is packed with delightful flavors.

The result is juicy, succulent chicken that remains moist, even after being cooked at high temperatures.

The velveting technique is particularly useful when preparing Chinese stir-fry dishes. Since many stir-fry recipes require quick cooking over high heat, it’s essential to prevent the chicken from drying out. The silky texture of the meat, combined with it’s retained moisture and flavor, creates a delightful experience for the palate.

It transforms the meat into a tender, juicy, and flavorful ingredient that enhances any dish it’s used in. So, the next time you want to elevate your chicken dishes to a whole new level, try the velveting technique – your taste buds will thank you!

Chinese cuisine is known for it’s delicious and uniquely tender chicken, which often leaves diners wondering about the secret behind it’s thinness. Interestingly, Chinese restaurants have their own methods of achieving this desirable texture. One popular technique involves marinating the chicken in a cornstarch or cornflour sludge before deep frying or blanching it in water. Alternatively, some chefs opt for using egg whites in combination with the aforementioned method. These innovative approaches ensure that the chicken remains succulent and delightfully thin, elevating the overall culinary experience.

How Do Chinese Restaurants Get Chicken So Thin?

Chinese restaurants achieve thin and tender chicken through various techniques that impart a delightful texture to their dishes. One method commonly employed involves marinating the chicken in a sludge made from cornstarch or cornflour. This sludge helps to break down the proteins in the chicken, resulting in a more tender and succulent texture. After marinating, the chicken is often deep-fried, which further adds crispiness to the exterior while preserving the tenderness inside.

Another method used by Chinese restaurants is known as blanching. In this technique, the chicken is briefly submerged in boiling water before being removed and quickly cooled down. Blanching is effective in preserving the natural juiciness of the meat while simultaneously removing any impurities or excess fat. Once blanched, the chicken can then be stir-fried or incorporated into various dishes, ensuring a desirable texture and taste.

Egg whites can also serve as a tenderizing agent in Chinese restaurant cooking. By using egg whites to marinate the chicken, the proteins in the meat are further broken down, resulting in a velvety and delicate texture. This method can be combined with either cornstarch or cornflour sludge for enhanced tenderness and crispness.

By employing a combination of marination, deep frying, blanching, and the addition of egg whites, they create mouthwatering dishes that are both tender and flavorful. These methods have been refined over generations, and their execution requires skill and expertise to ensure consistently delicious results.

Through their expertise and attention to detail, Chinese chefs can consistently deliver dishes that are satisfyingly tender, with layers of flavors that make their cuisine so popular worldwide.

The Use of Soy Sauce and Other Marinades in Chinese Restaurant Cooking

Soy sauce and other marinades play a crucial role in Chinese restaurant cooking. These condiments enhance the flavors of various dishes, adding depth and complexity to the overall taste. Made from fermented soybeans, soy sauce brings a savory umami flavor that’s essential in many Chinese recipes. It’s often used as a seasoning during stir-frying or as a dipping sauce. Other marinades, such as oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and black bean sauce, contribute unique flavors and balance to dishes. These ingredients help create the signature taste found in Chinese cuisine, ensuring a delightful dining experience.


In conclusion, the juicy nature of Chinese chicken can be attributed to the velvetting technique commonly employed in Chinese cooking. By marinating the meat in alkaline ingredients, such as baking soda or a mixture of cornstarch and water, the proteins in the chicken are tenderized, resulting in a moist and succulent texture. This method is particularly effective in enhancing the tenderness and juiciness of cheaper and tougher cuts of chicken.

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