Learn all the tricks to make authentic moo goo gai pan that is way better than takeout without a wok.
Moo Goo Gai Pan, or “mo gu ji pian”, means mushrooms and sliced chicken. It originated from a Cantonese dish and slightly transformed when it became one of the most famous American-Chinese dishes.
Unlike the Chinese take-out style, the mushroom chicken stir fry that I’m familiar with only uses sliced chicken and oyster mushrooms, cooked in a silky chicken broth based sauce with a touch of soy sauce. That is the northern Chinese version.
I found the Moo Goo Gai Pan in the US had so many more types of vegetables in it. The dish had more sauce too. After I tried it once, I fell in love with the new textures with the addition of bamboo shoots, water chestnut, and snow peas.
Cooking take-out style Moo Goo Gai Pan in your own kitchen is not difficult at all. All you need to do is:
- Slice chicken and marinate it for 10 to 15 minutes. It tenderizes the chicken and imparts more flavors into the meat.
- Prep and cut the vegetables into similar sized slices, so they will cook quickly and evenly.
- Mix the sauce. Like the restaurant-style dish, I prepared a generous amount of sauce so there is enough to serve it with rice or noodles.
- Heat up your pan until hot. Cook the chicken and vegetables separately, and pour in the sauce at the end. Taking out the chicken before cooking the vegetables ensures the chicken won’t be overcooked. It results in extra tender and juicy meat that is better than the takeout version.
If you think you need a wok to make proper Chinese takeout, it is not true. As long as you have a large skillet that is 12” to 14 in (30 to 35-cm) diameter, with a higher edge if possible, you’re all set. (You can read more about why I recommend a skillet over a wok for home cooks.) My favorite frying pan is Debuyer carbon steel pan. It heats up evenly, holds heat very well, and sears the meat beautifully. Plus, it becomes nonstick once properly seasoned, just like a cast iron pan. A Calphalon nonstick pan works well too, especially if you want to add less oil into your stir fry and keep it lower in calories.
Happy cooking everyone 🙂
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
More Chinese take-out recipes:
- Chinese Beef and Broccoli with Tofu (One Pan Take-Out)
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Shrimp Fried Rice (扬州炒饭, Yang Zhou Chao Fan)
- Char Siu Pork Lo Mein
Moo Goo Gai Pan (蘑菇鸡片)
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh about 1/2 pound
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves , grated
- 2 green onion , chopped
- 1 carrot , sliced
- 1/2 pound (230 grams) white mushrooms , sliced
- 1 cup snow peas
- 1 5 oz. canned bamboo shoots
- 1 5 oz. canned water chestnuts , sliced
- Slice chicken against the grain into 5 mm (1/4-inch) pieces. Transfer into a small bowl. Add oil, cornstarch and salt. Gently mix by hand to coat chicken evenly with a thin layer of starch.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients into a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy-duty skillet (or a wok) over medium high heat until hot. Add chicken and spread into a single layer. Cook without touching for about 30 seconds, or until the bottom turns golden. Flip and cook for another 10 to 20 seconds, until the surface is lightly charred and the inside is still raw. Transfer chicken to a plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the skillet. Add garlic and green onion. Stir a few times to release fragrance.
- Add carrot and mushrooms. Cook until it starts to get tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add snow peas, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts. Cook 1 minute.
- Stir the sauce again to let cornstarch dissolve completely. Pour into the pan. Add back chicken. Stir until the sauce thickens.
- Transfer everything into a serving plate immediately.
- Serve hot over steamed rice or by itself.