Today’s moo goo gai pan recipe will give you simple instruction for a modernized American-Chinese stir-fry dish.
You’ll have tender chicken and aromatic vegetables tied together by a silky and savory sauce, making it a crowd-pleaser everywhere it’s tasted.
What Is Moo Goo Gai Pan?
Moo goo gai pan (“蘑菇鸡板” in Chinese) is an authentic Cantonese dish. In the Cantonese dialect, “moo goo” means mushroom and “gai pan” means a chicken dish.
It is a dish made by stir-frying chicken, mushrooms, and vegetables in a tasty, gooey sauce. It’s usually served over hot steamed rice or with other Chinese soups.
Another chicken dish that uses a similar technique to moo goo gai pan is sesame chicken. These two are both very popular Asian dishes— the most significant differences between them are the sauce and the veggie mix.
Is Moo Goo Gai Pan Healthy?
With chicken, mushrooms, and other vegetables pairing together, this American-Chinese dish is undoubtedly light and healthy.
This moo goo gai pan delivers 506 calories per serving, making it a wholesome and fulfilling choice for a weeknight dinner.
You’ll get 61.4 grams of carbohydrates from one serving of this moo goo gai pan— most of them from the cornstarch. If you wish to decrease the carb content, simply cut the cornstarch by half.
Moo Goo Gai Pan Ingredients
Tender chicken, savory mushrooms, and crisp, fried vegetables are what you’re going to get from this moo goo gai pan. Here’s the lowdown on these main ingredients.
In this moo goo gai pan recipe, we used skinless boneless chicken thighs and chunked them into 1-inch pieces. Of course, you’re welcomed to use other chicken cuts, keep the skin on, or slice it whatever size you prefer.
Please note that you may have to adjust the cooking time if you’re planning on slicing it thicker or thinner.
Before stir-frying, the chicken meat is flavored with dark soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt, and ground black pepper. They’re all essential spices in Chinese cuisine that add a savory flavor kick to the dish.
Here’s one small tip before you start cooking: Put the raw chicken fillet into the freezer for half an hour. By doing this, the meat will become slightly hard, but not frozen, making it easier to create beautiful slices.
Shiitake mushrooms are our choice for this recipe. However, other types of mushrooms like wood ear or button mushrooms can also do a wonderful job.
Aside from mushrooms, this dish also calls for a veggie mix of carrots, snow peas, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts.
As bamboo shoots and water chestnuts are both sliced thin, you can purchase them in cans to save prep time. But please keep in mind that canned bamboo shoots and water chestnuts are slightly saltier and crunchier than raw ones.
It’s important to have all the vegetables sliced into comparable width and thickness so they can cook evenly. Feel free to add more of your favorite vegetables!
For moo goo gai pan, cornstarch is a must-have ingredient, as it plays an important role in creating a significantly gooey texture. We’ll go into details further below, but now, let’s take a look at the cooking steps.
How to Make Moo Goo Gai Pan
Step 1: Marinate the chicken
In a medium bowl, combine the chicken chunks together with egg white, 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch, and ½ teaspoon of dark soy sauce. Toss to coat. Cover with cling film and refrigerate.
Step 2: Boil the veggies
Heat 2 cups of water in a large saucepan over high heat. Add shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, carrots, snow peas, and bamboo shoots to the saucepan. Bring them to a boil, then drain.
Step 3: Stir-fry the veggies
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Add carrots, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, snow peas, and bamboo shoots to the pan. Stir-fry for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Make the sauce
In a small bowl, whisk together: chicken broth, sugar, reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Step 5: Stir-fry the chicken (1)
Remove the chicken from the fridge. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a shallow pan over medium heat. Add successively to the pan: chicken, ginger, garlic, salt, and ground black pepper. Stir-fry for 10 minutes.
Step 6: Stir-fry the chicken (2)
Add the sauce mixture to the chicken, turn to high heat, and let simmer for 3 minutes.
Step 7: Stir-fry the chicken (3)
Continue to add the fried veggies to the pan, stir around quickly, and turn off the heat.
Step 8: Serve
Transfer to a clean plate and serve with hot steamed white rice.
Moo Goo Gai Pan Sauce
The moo goo gai pan sauce is made by whisking up Asian ingredients, and cook together with the chicken. It lends the dish a delicate and subtle Asian flavor.
All you need to do is pour and stir the sauce into the chicken skillet. As it starts to thicken, the chicken also finishes cooking.
The ingredients for the sauce include chicken broth, sugar, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Don’t hesitate to adjust the amount of cornstarch to reach the desired consistency for your sauce.
One thing to remember is that the consistency of the sauce doesn’t last long— roughly no longer than an hour. So, it’s best to enjoy moo goo gai pan immediately after cooking.
Tips for Making
Moo goo gai pan always requires marinating the chicken in a mixture of cornstarch and egg white. In Chinese cooking, this method is known as velveting.
Velveting is meant to create a semi-transparent shield to protect the chicken from the direct heat. Thanks to it, the cooking results in juicy, tender meat.
In this recipe, the velveting takes approximately 10 minutes. You certainly can let the chicken marinate for longer and complete the other steps while on the wait.
How Long Will Moo Goo Gai Pan Last?
As said, moo goo gai pan tastes best when it’s cooked fresh, since cornstarch doesn’t retain its consistency for long. If left on the counter, it preserves the best flavor for an hour, and is edible within the same day of cooking.
If you find yourself with leftovers, don’t worry. Simply transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate like you always do with any leftovers.
Can You Freeze This Recipe?
Yes, you can.
However, it does take a little maneuvering when reheating. You’ll have to pour the leftover moo goo gai pan back into a pan and work with the consistency once again.
The reheating steps are actually simpler than they look. Simply heat it up for a minute, then stir in a small spoon of cornstarch to regulate the sauce’s thickness.
Please keep in mind that although this might help, it’s impossible to recreate the original flavor perfectly. We recommend not storing it more than 2 months in the freezer, and 2 days in the fridge.
What to Serve with Moo Goo Gai Pan
Moo goo gai pan is served best over hot steamed rice or with popular Chinese soups. Here are our suggestions.
Any Asian dish can be eaten with rice, and this recipe is no exception. If you’re in a rush, a bowl of hot white rice is enough to wrap up a complete meal with this dish.
2. Egg Drop Soup
Egg drop soup was our first, though, when coming up with a side soup for our moo goo gai pan. It can always be made from scratch, using whatever you have in your kitchen cabinet— what more could we want?
3. Watermelon Juice
We believe taking small sips of this watermelon juice between the meal is a nice way to reset your taste buds. What do you think?
How to Make Moo Goo Gai Pan
- 16 oz skinless boneless chicken thighs chunked
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp cornstarch divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 oz snow peas
- 3 oz carrots
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms
- 2 oz bamboo shoots
- 2 oz water chestnuts
- 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
- 1.5 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce divided
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 3 cups cooked medium-grain rice equal to 1 cup uncooked
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Coat the chicken
- In a medium bowl, combine the chicken chunks together with the egg white, 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch, and ½ teaspoon of dark soy sauce. Toss to coat. Cover with cling film and refrigerate. While waiting, complete the following steps.
Boil the veggies
- Heat 2 cups of water in a large saucepan over high heat. Add shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, carrots, snow peas, and bamboo shoots to the saucepan. Bring them to a boil.
- Drain well.
Stir-fry the veggies
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Add carrots, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- Continue to add shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, snow peas, and bamboo shoots to the pan. Stir-fry for 3 more minutes.
Make the sauce
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, sugar, reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Stir-fry the chicken
- Remove the chicken from the fridge.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a shallow pan over medium heat. Add successively to the pan: chicken, ginger, garlic, salt, and ground black pepper. Stir-fry for 10 minutes.
- Add the sauce mixture to the chicken, turn to high heat, and let simmer for 3 minutes.
- Continue to add the fried veggies to the pan, stir around quickly, and turn off the heat.
- Transfer to a clean plate and serve with hot steamed white rice.
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