Stir-Fried Cod With Yellow Squash and Asparagus Recipe

Stir-Fried Cod With Yellow Squash and Asparagus Recipe

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.

  • Yield:Serves 2
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:45 minutes


  • For the Cod:
  • 1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten (see note)
  • 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.