Jirou Chao Qincai (Stir-Fried Chicken and Celery)

The classic Chinese technique of velveting is the secret to moist, succulent chicken breast.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    20 minutes


By Deng Haiyan

Updated on February 21, 2024

Marinating meat before cooking is an essential step in most stir-fries. In this jirou chao qincai recipe from Beijing home cook Deng Haiyan, a mix of egg white and cornstarch coats the chicken, and a quick blanching in a little oil in the wok preserves its succulence—a technique called velveting. The bright, crunchy celery contrasts beautifully with the silky texture and delicate flavor of the chicken.

Featured in "A Stir-Fry Education" by Lillian Chou.

Order the SAVEUR Selects Nitri-Black Carbon Steel 14-Inch Wok here.


  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, frozen for 20 minutes, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into ⅛-in. thick strips
  • 1 egg white
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • One 1½-in. piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 5 celery stalks, cut on the bias into ¼-in. pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. light soy sauce


Step 1

In a medium bowl, toss together the cornstarch, chicken, egg white, and salt. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.

Step 2

Heat a large wok over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom and sides of the wok. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until opaque, 1–2 minutes. Transfer the chicken along with any juices to a bowl and set aside.

Step 3

Return the wok to the stove, add the remaining oil, and swirl as above. Add the ginger and leek and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the celery and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Add the reserved chicken and juices back to the wok, along with the soy sauce, and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, 1–2 minutes more.

Continue to Next Story

Want more SAVEUR?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.