Shrimp overcooks easily, going from translucent and tender to tough and chewy within seconds. To prevent toughness, Asian restaurants and home cooks use a "velveting" process that tenderizes shrimp with a corn-starch marinade followed by a quick blanching. Restaurants blanch velvet shrimp in oil, as it requires a copious amount. At home, you can blanch in water and produce the same supple texture.
Mix equal parts cornstarch, egg white, baking soda and rice wine in a mixing bowl. Submerge the shrimp in the marinade.
Marinate the shrimp in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse the shrimp; they should slightly opaque on the outside but translucent throughout.
Drain the shrimp and dry them with paper towels. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to it.
Blanch the shrimp for 30 seconds in the water and transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and dry the shrimp then cook them to taste. All cooking techniques -- including roasting, grilling and stir-frying -- will produce soft, tender flesh.
Dan Boone has been writing since 1999. His work has appeared on CaribbeanChannel.com and he wrote for the "Virgin Voice" magazine and its website, Virgin Voices. Boone has a Bachelor of Arts in composition and arranging from Berklee College of Music in Boston. He also holds a certificate in digital-sound engineering from the Trebas Institute in Montreal.