Velvet Chicken

The hallmark of this simple sweet and spicy stir-fry—velvety tender chicken—is achieved by boiling the marinated meat in oil. Slideshow:  Delicious Stir-Fry Recipes 

Velvet Chicken
Photo: © Madeleine Hill
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 45 mins


  • 2 large egg whites

  • 2 tablespoons toban djan, a fermented chile-bean sauce (See Note)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 4 tablespoons rice wine or sake

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • Peanut oil, for frying

  • 2 tablespoons black bean sauce

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 cup minced scallions

  • 3 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, finely grated

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic

  • 3 small dried red hot chiles

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces


  1. 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.


Toban djan is available at Asian markets or at

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