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Stir-fried water-velveted cod with squash and asparagus. [Photographs: Shao Z.]

This week, we've been taking a close look at water-velveting, a great stir-frying technique for home cooks that guarantees tender, silky meat, but without having to use the large amount of oil required by the more traditional oil-velveting method.

So far, we've shown recipes with pork and chicken, but today we'll see how well it works for a much more delicate protein: fish. The key with this stir-fry featuring cod is to turn the fish gently in the wok to avoid breaking it into smaller pieces. Let's take a closer look at the process:

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The first step is to slice the cod into nice, even, thin pieces, each about 1/4 inch thick.

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Next, I whip up the velveting mixture, which includes cornstarch, egg white, and rice wine, along with seasonings, and toss it to coat the fish. That gets refrigerated for 30 minutes.

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After the 30 minutes of marinating time, I boil about 6 cups of water in a wok, and add just a teaspoon of oil to the surface of the water—this little bit of oil will be just enough to give a fine oily coating to the pieces of fish, simulating the more traditional oil-cooking method but without all the oil it requires.

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I cook the meat just long enough to turn it opaque on the outside, but still leave it raw within. As soon as it hits that point, I drain it in a colander and give it a gentle shake to remove excess water from the fish.

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Then I wipe out and dry the wok, add some more oil and begin the actual stir-frying process. First up, I add the vegetables, in this case asparagus and yellow squash and give it a quick toss in the heat.

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Next I add the fish, followed by the sauce, which is made with chicken stock, garlic, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Turning the fish and vegetables carefully, to avoid breaking up the fish, I let it cook until the sauce has thickened and coats all of the other ingredients. Simple as that!

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