I absolutely love ponzu sauce, and this ponzu chicken is an easy and delicious way to mix up your stir-fry nights at home! I like to use this sauce with chicken, lotus root, and baby bok choy, but you can easily pair it with your favorite stir-fry ingredients if desired. In this recipe, chicken breast pieces are tenderized through a simple process using baking soda, which helps keep them from overcooking. This dish is best when served with a side of white rice, I typically use jasmine rice. If you’ve never cooked with lotus root before, this is an easy first recipe to try!
How to make velvet chicken with baking soda.
“Velvet” Chicken is chicken that has gone through a process to tenderize the meat, known as “velveting”. This process is very common for stir-fry, especially in American-Chinese restaurants, because it prevents the chicken from becoming dry and overcooked. There are a few different methods for velveting chicken, the most common method uses a mixture of corn starch and oil, but the method I prefer uses baking soda
After slicing the chicken into thin, bite-sized pieces, all you have to do is dust the chicken with some baking soda and let it sit for about 15 minutes. I use a small mesh strainer to dust the baking soda on (similar to how you might dust powdered sugar), but it can easily be done without one as well. Once that’s complete, just thoroughly rinse off the baking soda (I do this in a large mesh strainer) and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Then it’s ready to be seasoned and used in your stir-fry! You can start this process before you prep the rest of the ingredients, and it shouldn’t add too much time to the prep.
There are a few other recipes on the site that also call for velvet chicken. If you enjoy this recipe, you may enjoy them as well!
Key Tips – Ponzu Chicken
Don’t skip the tenderizing process.
- There are a few ways to “velvet” chicken, but this one is quite simple. All you do is lightly dust the chicken in baking soda, let it sit, then rinse it off. This step can be omitted, but it helps keep the chicken tender and will make sure the meat isn’t overcooked, so I highly recommend it.
Buy poached, pre-sliced lotus root for easy prep.
- Lotus root is available at most Asian grocery stores in the US. It can typically be found pre-sliced and poached in a 1 lb package in the refrigerated section. These packages are super convenient and I recommend using them! All you need to do to prepare them for the stir-fry is rinse and slice.
- If you’re cooking with fresh lotus root, prepare it prior to following this recipe. Chop off the ends, then peel the lotus root and slice it into ~1/4″ thick slices. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add about 1 tbsp of vinegar to the water. Boil the lotus root slices for about 5 minutes, then drain and set aside to use in the recipe.
The sauce can be mixed ahead of time.
- If you’re looking to prep portions of the meal in advance, mixing the sauce ahead of time is an easy way to speed up the process when you go to make the meal. The chicken can also go through its baking soda process and then be returned to the fridge and cooked later in the day.
If you substitute ingredients, cook times may vary.
- Please note that if you swap some of the ingredients, the cook times needed may vary slightly from what’s given in the recipe.
Variations – Ponzu Chicken
Substitute water chestnuts.
- You can substitute an 8 oz can of water chestnuts for the lotus root if you can’t find lotus root near you. This is an easy substitute and will also pair well with the rest of the dish!
Use this ponzu glaze with your favorite stir-fry ingredients!
- This ponzu glaze is a versatile stir-fry sauce that can be used with other stir-fry ingredients, so don’t be afraid to make substitutions or switch up the main components completely!
Dietary Restrictions – Ponzu Chicken
This dish is naturally Dairy-Free.
Make it Gluten-Free.
- Most oyster sauce contains gluten. Use gluten-free oyster sauce to make this dish gluten-free. (Both Kikkoman and Lee Kum Kee brands offer a GF oyster sauce)
- Make sure you’re using gluten-free ponzu sauce if you’re preparing this for someone who is highly sensitive to gluten.
A Note On Serving Sizes
Serving sizes are a very personal thing, making it very difficult for me to select a serving size that suits everyone. While this is listed as 4 servings, many people would prefer to have more than one serving. I typically serve this dish as 2-3 large dinner servings or 4 small lunch servings.
Ponzu Glazed Chicken
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 6 oz baby bok choy or similar, such as dwarf bok choy or cabbage
- 8 oz poached lotus root optional, sub water chestnuts and/or more bok choy
- 4 green onions greens and whites sliced thin and separated
- 1 tbsp freshly minced garlic
- ~2 tsp baking soda optional, for tenderizing chicken
- veggie oil or similar, for stir-frying
For Ponzu Glaze:
- Optional, tenderize the chicken: Slice the chicken breast into ~¼” thick slices and cut into bite-sized pieces. Arrange the sliced chicken on a cutting board or plate so it’s laying flat. Dust with ~1 tsp of baking soda, then flip all the pieces and dust with the other ~1 tsp of baking soda. Let sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, thoroughly rinse the baking soda off of the chicken with water, then pat dry. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Prepare the other ingredients while you wait for the chicken.
- Thoroughly rinse the baby bok choy and slice into bite-size pieces (pictured are dwarf bok choy, halved). If using poached, pre-sliced lotus root (recommended) rinse then cut in half to create bite-sized pieces. If using fresh lotus root, please see notes. Thinly slice the green onion, separating the white and green portions.
- Dissolve the corn starch in the chicken stock, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Heat a generous swirl of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large wok or skillet. Once hot, add the chicken and toss to coat it in oil, then arrange it so it's laying flat in the pan. Let the chicken cook undisturbed until the bottom is golden and it's mostly cooked through, about 4 minutes. Then flip or toss the chicken and cook for about 1 more minute until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add a little more oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot add the lotus root and the white portions of the green onion (if substituting cabbage, add that now as well). Cook, stirring frequently, until the lotus root turns a little golden, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 more minute until it's very fragrant.
- Add the sauce to the pan. Stir frequently until it's simmering, then add the chicken back to the pan as well. When the sauce has become a glaze (this will happen quickly) turn off the heat and add the baby bok choy. Mix well, and the bok choy will cook and wilt slightly in the warm sauce.
- Serve immediately over a bed of white rice (I use Jasmine), and top with the green onion greens.
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