Stir-Fried Cod With Yellow Squash and Asparagus

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

This quick and simple stir-fry features cod that's been water-velveted—an easy technique that guarantees tender, silky meat. Light, delicate and full of gently cooked vegetables, it's a perfect dish in a multi-course meat-heavy menu.

Why this recipe works:

  • Marinating the cod in a mixture of cornstarch, egg white, wine, and seasonings—a process known as velveting--guarantees silky, tender meat.
  • Par-cooking the meat in a bath of boiling water with just a little oil is much easier for home cooks than the more traditional hot-oil-bath method, with equally good results.

Note: To make egg white easy to measure, beat it with a fork until it has a thinner viscosity.

Stir-Fried Cod With Yellow Squash and Asparagus

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 2
Active time:15 minutes
Total time:45 minutes
Special equipment:Wok
This recipe appears in: Chinese Velveting 101: Stir-Fried Cod With Yellow Squash and Asparagus Chinese Velveting 101: An Introduction to Water-Velveting


  • For the Cod:
  • 1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten (see note above)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or sake
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound cod or other firm white-fleshed fish such as halibut, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable, canola, or peanut oil
  • For the Stir-Fry:
  • 3 tablespoons homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or peanut oil
  • 1/4 pound yellow squash, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1/4 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooked white rice, for serving


  1. 1

    For the Cod: In a small bowl, thoroughly combine egg white, cornstarch, rice wine, and salt. Place cod in a bowl and pour cornstarch mixture on top, tossing gently to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  2. 2

    Fill a wok with the water, bring to a boil, and add oil. Add cod and cook, stirring with chopsticks or a strainer, until opaque outside and still raw within, about 30 seconds. Gently drain cod in a colander and gently shake to remove excess water. Wipe wok clean and dry.

  3. 3

    For the Stir-Fry: In a small bowl, combine chicken stock, garlic, sesame oil, and cornstarch and mix well.

  4. 4

    Heat vegetable oil in wok over high heat until smoking. Add squash and asparagus and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

  5. 5

    Add cod and continue to cook, turning gently to avoid breaking up the fish, for 1 minute. Add sauce, season with salt, and cook, stirring gently, until the sauce thickens and coats fish and vegetables. Transfer to a platter and serve with white rice.


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