Velveting Meat

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by koukouvagia, May 6, 2013.

  1. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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  2. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    It's a classic technique... give it a try!
     
  3. ordo

    ordo

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    We talked about this technique, a must in many Chinese recipes, some months ago. It also works in vapor steaming and boiling, for instance fish balls in soup. Give me a minute to find the link.

    BDL suggested it causes a change in the texture, not a really tenderizing effect but as you mention, a velveting  procedure. Nontheless, i use this technique every week cause I'm a lot in Chinese cooking and still not sure it's just a texture change. But you know, BDL knows a little bit more than me…
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  4. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    It works great, but does anyone know the mechanism behind this?
     
  5. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    People sometimes seem to confuse two different techniqeus: velvetting with cornstarch and tenderizing (beef) with baking soda.  Veleveting makes for a nice mouthfeel and might even tighten up the sauce a bit and give the sauce a bit more to cling to than would bare meat.  Tenderizing with baking soda generall makes for mushy meat.
     
  6. michaelga

    michaelga

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    A few things:

    It adds a 'buffering' layer between the heat (oil or water / steam) and the food so that it is less likely to over-cook.  

    It also adds a soft texture to the outside of what ever protein you are velveting providing a 'softer' mouth feel.

    It prevents the protein from getting charred or developing hard-sear spots that can be quite chewy even hard.  (no crust directly on protein)

    It forms a thin batter-like layer that helps retain moisture in the protein

    ----

    All that said it is the first one that has the most dramatic effect, not overcooking.

    ----

    fwiw- 

    (some styles of velveting make use of altering the PH of the protein to actually tenderize, they use techniques that raise the ph (reduce acidity) - usually egg whites, cornstarch, water and baking soda)  take note that different proteins react differently.   Usually it is easier to do two steps - brine/tenderize then velvet.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  7. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Like pastry flour that's high in starch, cornstarch is a thickener and adds smoothness to a sauce and perhaps to the meat as well.  Think ... starch, something that baking soda isn't.   As opposed to the latter, starch is a very long chain compound like a railroad track - loooooooooong and smooth whereas baking soda is a mere point-dot.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  8. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Michael GA is on track with how Cook's Illustrated explains the velveting technique as well. Basically, it offers a layer to buffer the meat from heat of cooking. Coupled with a traditionally low temp cooking method with the low temp fry, steam or boil which prevents any crisping to speak of. And both egg and cornstarch have some slippery textures too.

    Further, baking soda and egg white are the two most common bases in cooking with most everything else being acidic. For chinese food, baking soda is a cheat towards improving lesser quality cuts of meat and also to dodge the extra work of true velvelting. I don't think baking soda tenderizing is that good of a technique overall. I was disappointed that Bee of www.rasamalaysia.com touts it  so much in her cooking and her book.  As  velveting usually has a pretty short marination, I'm a little skeptical of the egg white having that strong of an effect. Egg white is only about 7.6 pH where baking soda is 9.
     
  9. allanmcpherson

    allanmcpherson

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    This is interesting. I have heard of this before, probably on this forum. The use of egg makes me think of Cornell Chicken. Anybody ever try boosting the Cornell style marinade with elements of veleveting?

    How about deactived baking soda?

    Al
     
  10. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Cornell marinade is mayonnaise with a bunch of vinegar; it's used on whole chicken pieces before grilling.  The acid from the vinegar does most of the magic with the meat, and the mayo with the skin.  It's not one of my top three methods for grilled chicken (juice/water/wine brining; buttermilk brining; or a tikka style yogurt marinade).  But I have tried the Cornell and do like it.    

    Velveting is different in just about every way, and leads to a different kind of cooking.     

    I've never tried adding any sort of starch to anything like a Cornell marinade; nor deactivated baking soda.  Could do some interesting things... but I've never tried it.  Similarly I've never tried grilling meat which was "velveted."     

    BDL
     
  11. allanmcpherson

    allanmcpherson

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    Ah, so the cornell uses the egg as an emmulion aid for the marinade. Thats interesting in and of itself. I would guess just so that it clings to the bird?

    Al
     
  12. dcarch

    dcarch

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  13. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Probably not so much in China, but it is more readily available here in the US than their traditional choices.
     
  14. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Agreed, it gets the same results.   Same as using Cal for mexican / spanish etc. Natron for middle east etc.

    Lye water is what i've seen the most in shops and kitchens, used to make shrimp crunchy, pork tender and noodles chewy, moon cakes soft etc.

    edit to include - increasing browning and chemical levening.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  15. ordo

    ordo

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    Let's not forget there's a dry and a wet cornstarching (a new verb). If you mix water and cornstarch (not for quickly thickening a sauce) and make a 12 hours marinade, everything changes.

    @bdl: About grilling velveted meat, yes. i tried it with a steak. An epic fail.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  16. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  17. dcarch

    dcarch

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    You are very correct that in chemistry lye is known as either sodium or potassium hydroxide.

    However, in Chinese cooking, I have seen the following:

    "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_noodles

     

    Lye-water or egg


    These wheat flour noodles are more chewy in texture and yellow in colour either due to the addition of lye (sodium carbonatepotassium carbonatecalcium hydroxide, or potassium hydroxide) and/or egg. This class of lye water noodles (Chinese: 碱麵; pinyinjiǎn miàn) has a subtle but distinctive smell and taste, described by some as being "eggy".[8]"

    dcarch
     
  18. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    There's a mis-use of terms, then.  When they state 'lye' they mean a solution that is very basic with a pH greater than 7.  Now, we're on the same page!
     
  19. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    Worked with 3 Chinese Chefs for years. Only time I saw them use baking soda is to wash meat if it were going. Everything was done with cornstarch, s&p  MSG.  The starch mixed with liquid on surface  of  chicken or pork  or whatever, and when placed in hot oil  in wok sealed the meat and made it shiny besides. 
     
  20. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Agreed - we kind of had a bit of thread drift on this one...