Chinese shredded chicken dishes at home?
February 26, 2006 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Calling all chefs: How can I "shred" raw chicken to re-create the spicy shredded chicken from my local Sichuan joints? Is it just a matter of slicing the breast into thin matchsticks? That sounds arduous and also sounds like it would produce stiff strips of chicken instead of the tender floppy shreds I'm trying to copy.
posted by CunningLinguist to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I would poach the chicken first and then shred the cooked chicken with a fork. Does it have to be uncooked to be shredded?
posted by briank at 8:40 AM on February 26, 2006

It's easier to shred it if you cook it first. I have the same issue when making enchiladas.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:41 AM on February 26, 2006

To shred chicken, use two forks and insert the prongs, back sides facing each other, into the center of a portion of meat. Pull the forks gently away from each other, causing the meat to break into thin strips. Continue the process until the entire piece has been pulled apart.

Just googled for "shredding chicken."

From different Google result for same search:
Shredding the Chicken: When the chicken is completely cooked, let it sit for about 15 minutes to even out the heat and allow it to cool down enough to handle. While you are getting the chicken ready for serving you will need to reheat it so it doesn’t matter if it cools down a lot. The big question about shredding is how to do it. Traditionally chicken is pulled apart by hand. This is time consuming so you might want to consider chopping or pulsing in your food processor. There are advantages to each.
(Source, rest of piece)
posted by disillusioned at 8:43 AM on February 26, 2006

Response by poster: No, it's clearly raw chicken in long thin tendrils that has been stir-fried. Precooked chicken wouldn't work.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:43 AM on February 26, 2006

Best answer: Try pounding the chicken first. Once it's pounded out to about twice its original size, cut it into strips with a knife. That should get you pretty close.
posted by Eddie Mars at 8:47 AM on February 26, 2006

You sure Cunning? I've never seen anything like that done with raw chicken. Usually, from my experience, people will boil the chicken over a low heat just to get it white throughout and then shred as described above. It won't change the flavor at all and I don't think it's really can be called pre-cooked.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:48 AM on February 26, 2006

Response by poster: Well, this is the kind of thing I want, and according to the recipe I do have to slice it. I think pounding is a terrific idea though!
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:52 AM on February 26, 2006

Response by poster: (I should have found that recipe before posting, but I only found it by doing an image search to try and illustrate the kind of dish I meant.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:54 AM on February 26, 2006

Cunning, how are you sure it's raw? The shredded chicken I've seen has been either steamed or boiled and then pulled apart pretty much like disillusioned says. You can toss steamed shredded chicken in with a stirfry pretty simply and it will soak up all the flavors similar to if you'd started with raw.
posted by jessamyn at 8:54 AM on February 26, 2006

Yeah, pounding it out really super thin and then slicing as thin as you can go might give you the result you want.
posted by briank at 8:54 AM on February 26, 2006

1. Pound it to make cutting thin strips easy.

2. The posted recipe calls for you to feather the chicken (they call it "slippery-fry"), which will cause the shreds to be floppier and more tender.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:55 AM on February 26, 2006

Response by poster: Wait, what's feathering?
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:59 AM on February 26, 2006

Best answer: After you pound raw chicken to a uniform thickness, put it in the freezer for 10 or 20 minutes and it will be much easier to slice.
posted by nicwolff at 9:01 AM on February 26, 2006

Best answer: CL, whoops, By "feathering" I meant "velveting."

Velveting is a common technique in Southern Chinese cooking where meat is pre-cooked in warm oil and then drained. This tenderizes the meat, which is then finished in a hot wok before plating.

eG thread on velveting
posted by rxrfrx at 9:11 AM on February 26, 2006

Response by poster: Woo-hoo! rxrfrx, that's terrific. I'll try it tonight and report back.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2006

Freeze and julienne (maybe with a mandolin?) ?
posted by misterbrandt at 10:37 AM on February 26, 2006

Just a wild guess, but 'long thin tendrils' sounds like the chicken has been ground. I know raw ground turkey looks like that when it comes out of the package.

Now I'm hungry.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:06 AM on February 26, 2006

Yeah, it might not be exactly right, but I'd try using ground chicken. Perhaps not stirring it too much at first, so the individual... grounds? have a chance to... solidify? Certainly save you about a wokful of work.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:08 PM on February 26, 2006

Response by poster: Success!

So it turns out that "velveting" chicken is a total freaking revelation. I can't believe I never heard about this before. It totally changes the texture of the meat, giving me exactly that soft tender floppy texture I was looking for.
I did have to cut the chicken into tiny strips and it did take a while, but pounding it semi-frozen, and then butterflying the breast, then slicing strips as thin as possible gave me a fair approximation of the restaurant's "shredded" chicken. I still don't know how they get it so thin and so uniform, but I'm guessing maybe practice. Anyway, it was worth the effort. Thanks for your help guys.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:58 PM on February 26, 2006

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