Moo Goo Gai Pan Recipe (蘑菇雞片)
Moo Goo Gai Pan recipe is what you make when you crave good food fast! With tender juicy chicken breasts, crisp vegetables, and a deeply savory-sweet moo goo gai pan sauce, this easy one-pot meal, made paleo and whole30, tastes light, fresh, and oh-so-yummy! The whole family will love this dish so get your chopsticks ready!
Moo Goo Gai Pan (蘑菇雞片): What is it? Is it Authentic?
When I first saw this dish in New York, I decided to give it a try. Chicken with mushroom stir-fry …what’s not to love? Did I like it?
In short, I did! But the American-Chinese version tastes different than what I had in mind.
Moo goo gai pan originally is a Cantonese dish. The flavor is deeply savory and woodsy because of shiitake mushrooms. There’s a similar dish I had growing up – chicken with shiitake mushroom stew (香菇雞片) – and it’s made in a claypot and half stir-fried and half simmered. In my opinion, that’s a more popular dish among the locals.
The Chinese-American version of moo goo gai pan recipe tastes milder in flavor and emphasizes texture and crunch, which I like a lot, and that’s the version we are making today, plus a few personal touches to make it my own.
Moo Goo Gai Pan is a Cantonese translation. In Mandarin, it is pronounced Mó Gū Ji Piàn. In Cantonese, chicken is pronounced as Gai whereas in Mandarin it’s pronounced as Ji.
- Moo Goo, 蘑菇 [Mógū], means mushrooms.
- Gai [gāi], or Ji [Jī] in Mandarin, means chicken.
- Pan, [piàn] 片, means thin slices and thin pieces.
What is in moo goo gai pan?
Thinly sliced chicken breasts, carrots, water chestnuts, snow peas, and white or baby bella mushrooms. Baby corn and napa cabbage are also often added to this dish.
How to make moo goo gai pan recipe
- Slice and season the chicken.
- Prepare the vegetables, aromatics, and the sauce.
- Saute the chicken until it’s almost cooked through. Set it aside.
- Add the garlic, carrots, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and snow peas
- Return the chicken to the pan and add the sauce. Toss to combine.
How to thinly slice the chicken and make it tender?
You can use the Chinese velveting technique which coats the chicken with egg white first, like my Chinese cashew chicken. It is, however, not the only way to make chicken breasts tender. Let me show you a simpler and quicker way than velveting –
- Slicing: slice the chicken breasts as thin as possible – a little thicker than ⅛-inch but thinner than ¼-inch. I like to slice them at a 45 degree angle so they become pieces as opposed to strips.
- Seasoning: follow the seasoning combo listed in my recipe below. Baking soda is used to help tenderize the chicken breasts.
- Temperature and speed: the actual stir-fry time is short and quick so get all the ingredients ready first. Your skillet needs to be preheated well – hot but not burning. And you don’t need a wok to make a good stir-fry. I have an IKEA 365 line stainless steel skillet, which I still use often.
- Watch this video on how I slice and season the chicken.
Articles to read:
What is Moo goo gai pan sauce made of?
This sauce is gluten-free and soy-free:
- Coconut aminos
- Grated ginger
- Chicken stock
- Arrowroot or tapioca starch
- Peach jam
The takeout version uses oyster sauce. I have a homemade version that’s vegetarian friendly and has no additives and starch – Vegetarian oyster sauce. When you use the oyster sauce in combination with the coconut aminos, please reduce the quantity so that the sauce won’t be overly salty.
If Whole30, skip the jam. If Keto, use a keto sweetener of choice.
Differences between moo goo gai pan and moo shu chicken
- Both moo shu and moo goo are stir-fry dishes with chicken and crisp vegetables.
- Moo shu chicken uses shredded cabbage and hoisin sauce and is served with mandarin pancakes on the side.
- Moo goo gai pan features mushrooms and uses either oyster sauce or white sauce (no soy sauce).
- Moo shu chicken tastes sweeter and with a thicker sauce whereas moo goo tastes lighter and more gingery.
What goes well with this chicken mushroom stir-fry dish?
This moo goo gai pan recipe is the perfect one pot meal! You can serve it as is with rice or cauliflower rice but here are some side dishes and pairing ideas –
- Chinese Broccoli Stir-Fry in Garlic Sauce
- Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce (vegetarian friendly)
- Asian Cucumber Salad (honey chili garlic vinaigrette)
- Chinese smashed cucumber salad
- Napa cabbage stir-fry with quail eggs
- Chinese Garlic Green Beans
- Sauteed Asparagus in Chickpea Miso Butter
- Browse more healthy delicious Gluten-Free Side Dishes
More Chicken and Chinese-American Dishes
- Black pepper chicken
- Sweet and sour chicken
- Chinese Sesame chicken
- Chicken stir-fry with napa cabbage
- Chicken and Broccoli
- Asian Chicken Cabbage Salad
- Thai Larb (with ground chicken)
- Thai Basil Chicken
- Browse my Paleo Chinese American Dishes
Moo Goo Gai Pan (paleo, gluten-free, whole30 if modified)
For the chicken:
- 0.6 oz garlic cloves, minced, about 4 cloves
- 3 tbsp avocado oil
- 3 pinches coarse sea salt
For the vegetables:
- 4 oz. carrots, sliced on diagonal, about 1 medium
- 8 oz. baby bella, or white button mushrooms, quartered
- 8 oz. Water chestnuts, canned. drained and sliced
- 4 oz. snow peas
- Thin slice chicken to about ¼ and ⅛ inch thin pieces. Add the seasonings, mix well, and set aside in the fridge.
- Prepare the garlic, vegetables, and the sauce. Set them aside ready to use.
- In a well-heated large skillet, add 1 tbsp cooking fat. Sear the chicken breasts in a single layer over medium-high heat without disturbing them until they are in golden brown color, about 2-3 minutes, then use a spatula with a firm tip to flip and sear the flip side, about 1-2 minutes. The chicken should be almost cooked through before setting them aside along with the pan juice and oil in the skillet.
- Use the same skillet, add 2 tbsp cooking fat. Saute the garlic over medium heat for 5 seconds. Add the carrots and mushrooms. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Season with 2 pinches of salt and saute for 15 seconds. Add the chestnuts and snow peas with a pinch of salt. Saute for 10 seconds.
- Return the chicken and the pan juice to the skillet. Stir the sauce again before adding it to the pan. Toss to combine for 10 seconds to thicken the sauce. Turn off the heat. Serve hot or warm with steamed rice or cauliflower rice.
- The takeout version uses oyster sauce. I have a homemade version that’s vegetarian friendly and has no additives and starch – Vegetarian oyster sauce. When you use the oyster sauce in combination with the coconut aminos, please reduce the quantity so that the sauce won’t be overly salty.
- If Whole30, skip the jam. If Keto, use a keto sweetener of choice.