One of the very first dinners I attempted to make as a new cook was some sort of variation of beef and broccoli – a favorite take-out dish. And while the flavors were “fine”, it was definitely not the same as our go-to place down the block.

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And no matter how many recipes I tried over the years, they invariably disappointed every time.

Until I learned about “velveting”.

Oh, you’ve never heard of it either? Allow me to introduce you – or rather, quote Cook’s Illustrated:

“[Velveting] involves marinating the meat in egg whites, cornstarch, water or rice wine, and salt…..during which time the mixture forms a gossamer-thin coating on the meat and the alkaline egg whites tenderize the meat by changing its pH. The meat is then blanched in simmering water or oil to set the coating, which will protect the meat against the blazing heat of the wok. The coating turns plush and silky as it cooks, delivering its namesake texture.”

“Velveting”, “plush” and “silky” are not terms one often uses when referring to a stir-fry, yet you know that it’s not just the flavor, but the texture that makes that take-out-from-a-carton so unbelievably satisfying.

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And it’s really quite a simple technique. What’s not so simple is the traditional blanch in hot oil that restaurants use when velveting. But home cooks can get a remarkably similar result from boiling water that has a little bit of oil added.

I tried this out on a very basic beef and broccoli recipe from the New York Times and WOW. I could not believe the difference! Even better, you can do the velveting the night before, making a fast weeknight dinner totally doable.

And best of all, this technique will work on any protein – chicken, fish or pork.

Give this a try and let me know what you think!

Velvet Flank Steak
from Well Fed, Flat Broke

1 pound flank steak, patted dry and very thinly sliced against the grain
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 egg white
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Place steak in a large ziploc bag. Whisk the cornstarch, soy sauce and vinegar in a small bowl till smooth. Whisk in the egg white till well combined but not frothy. Add this mixture to the meat and squish the bag so that each piece is well coated. Refrigerate for 30 – 60 minutes.

Bring 4 cups water, salt and oil to a boil in a medium pot. Cook the meat in 3 batches, for 30 seconds each batch, removing with a slotted spoon and transferring to a colander. Make sure the water returns to a boil between batches. Use immediately in your recipe or refrigerate overnight.

Beef with Broccoli
adapted from The New York Times

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce (or to taste), optional
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon grapeseed  oil
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

rice, to accompany

Whisk the soy sauce, oyster sauce and chili-garlic sauce in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon water and whisk again; set aside.

Heat 1/2 cup grapeseed oil in a large pan set over high heat. Saute the steak in 2 batches, transferring to a plate or bowl when finished. Pour off the oil and wipe out the pan. Add the remaining tablespoon oil and heat till smoking. Saute the broccoli, stirring frequently, for 2 – 5 minutes – it should be lightly charred in spots. Add 2 tablespoons water and toss for another 2 minutes. Return the steak to the pan, followed by the sauce. Stir frequently till well coated, then add the butter and continue stirring.

(print this recipe)

This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver

More “dinner irl” recipes (with tons of great tips and tricks) on Pinterest!

Velveting Beef l


  1. AUDREY YEUNG on July 14, 2020 at 8:05 am

    What if you want to velvet beef stripes for dishes other than Chinese.?

    • sherisilver on July 14, 2020 at 8:37 am

      You can not only use this technique for any type of dish as well as almost any type of protein!

  2. AUDREY YEUNG on July 14, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Do you substitute the soy sauce and sesame oil with anything else, or just leave those ingredients out entirely?

  3. AUDREY YEUNG on July 14, 2020 at 10:12 am

    If you don’t want to make it Chinese-y do you substitute the soy sauce and sesame oil with anything else, or just leave those ingredients out entirely?

    • sherisilver on July 14, 2020 at 1:45 pm

      I would sub olive oil for the sesame oil and you could leave out the soy or maybe a red wine vinegar in its place? The main ingredients at play in velveting are the cornstarch and egg white. Let me know what you use!

      • Anita on August 31, 2020 at 5:58 pm

        I have an egg allergy, any idea what kind of substitution I could make for the egg in the velveting of the beef?

        • sherisilver on August 31, 2020 at 11:31 pm

          I’ve never tried it in this recipe but if you Google “aqua faba” you’ll learn that chickpea water (from canned chickpeas) can make a great substitute for egg whites – I’ve actually made vegan meringues right here using it! So I bet it might work for this recipe!

  4. AUDREY YEUNG on July 14, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks! A soupçon of wine or sherry vinegar sounds good.

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