20 minute is all it takes to make this delicious moo goo gai pan recipe! Chicken and vegetables tossed in a gooey, sour and savory sauce so tasty you’ll want to drizzle it all over your rice!
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works
- Glossy chicken, mushrooms and snappy veggies – served in a restaurant quality sauce that is savory, sour and thick.
- It’s quick and easy. 20 minutes of cooking time. Tastes better than takeout.
- Marinating and velveting the chicken infuses flavor, moisture and a silky, soft texture.
What is Moo Goo Gai Pan?
Moo goo gai pan is a simple American-Chinese stir fry made with chicken (gai pin in Cantonese), mushrooms (mohgu in Cantonese) and vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. The ingredients are tossed in a classic thick Cantonese white sauce and served with rice on the side.
Moo Goo Gai Pan Recipe Video
Ingredients for Moo Goo Gai Pan
- Oil: Use any neutral cooking oil. Peanut oil is a great choice, but you can use vegetable oil and grapeseed oil, etc.
- Chicken: I’m using boneless skinless chicken breasts but feel free to use chicken thighs as well.
- Garlic: Garlic is essential to Chinese cooking and is used to flavor the oil.
- Mushrooms: You can use any type of mushrooms such as shiitake or wood ear. I’m using white button mushrooms because they are easy to find.
- Snow Peas: I prefer snow peas over sugar snap peas because of their softer texture, but you can swap one for the other.
- Bamboo Shoots: canned bamboo shoots are savory – and a little crunchy and meaty in texture.
- Water Chestnuts: Super duper crunchy!
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is essential to thickening the sauce and will give it that restaurant caliber gooey texture we’ve come to associate with Chinese food.
- Ground White Pepper: This adds a sharp and floral kick.
- Chicken Marinade: This is a simple mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar and cornstarch that will infuse extra flavor to your chicken. We’ll talk about velveting in a sec.
- Moo Goo Gai Pan Sauce: A mixture of chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, and sesame oil.
- Bok choy
- Baby bok choy
- Green onion
- Shiitake mushrooms
How to Velvet Chicken
A great Chinese cooking technique for chicken, beef and pork is called velveting. Velveting does two important things in this recipe.
- It tenderizes the chicken, resulting in soft, silky and almost glossy meat once cooked.
- Velveting also locks in the flavor and the moisture from the marinade – and creates a barrier from the heat of the wok, so your chicken is always juicy.
There are multiple techniques for velveting – however, the simplest is using cornstarch in a flavored marinade.
For this recipe I’m marinating the chicken in a mixture of rice vinegar, soy sauce and cornstarch. While you can let the chicken marinate for as little as 20 minutes, I recommend leaving it for longer if you have the time. 30-40 minutes yields super moist chicken pieces.
How To Make Moo Goo Gai Pan
- Marinate the chicken: Whisk all the ingredients for the chicken marinade in a bowl. Place the chicken into the marinade and gently massage until all the pieces are evenly coated. Set aside for at least 20 minutes.
- Cook the chicken: Place the chicken in a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute until it’s cooked through and tender. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Cook the vegetables: In the same pan you used for the chicken, add the garlic, mushrooms and snow peas, and cook for 5 minutes. Add bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Reintroduce the cooked chicken to the pan and cook for 2 additional minutes.
- Add the sauce: Once the sauce is hot and bubbling, add the cornstarch and water slurry slowly, stirring the entire time – until the sauce thickens.
- Serve: Serve with white rice and season with a little salt and white ground pepper if needed.
Thickening the Sauce With Cornstarch
In order to make a thin sauce gooey and thick, mix a little corn starch with cold water. Pour that slurry into the sauce as it is bubbling, stirring constantly, and that’s it! The sauce will thicken almost immediately and be ready to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! To make moo goo shrimp, simply swap the chicken for large shrimp that have been thawed, de-shelled and deveined. The cooking time will vary slightly since shrimp take less time to cook. You can velvet shrimp as well with the same marinade. It will give them a great texture!
The name is pretty much a direct translation from the two main ingredients – chicken and mushrooms. The literal translation for mòh-gū gāi-pin is ‘mushrooms with chicken slices.’
China is a big country – and the food from region to region is complex and vastly diverse. Cantonese dishes are oftentimes milder in flavor than cuisine from the Sichuan and Hunan Provinces. But even though Cantonese cuisine calls for fewer in-your-face spices and chilies, the delicate sauces are still savory and flavor forward.
I feel your pain. The only downside to gooey Chinese sauces is that the consistency doesn’t last. That’s because corn starch can only retain its consistency for about an hour and a half at most. You may have noticed this with leftovers from your favorite Chinese restaurant as well. But you can reheat leftovers in a pan on the stovetop. Once they’re hot, stir in a little corn starch slurry to bring back the thick consistency. It works most of the time.
What to Serve with Moo Goo Gai Pan
Stir fries are so easy to make that I usually have plenty of time to cook additional dishes to serve along with this main dish. Some of my favorites are:
- Chinese Eggplant With Garlic Sauce
- Cantonese Style Chow Mein
- Easy Vegetable Egg Rolls
- Homemade Wonton Soup
- Mushroom Cabbage Dumplings
Store leftovers in an airtight food storage container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- Reheat leftovers in the microwave, or in a hot pan on the stovetop with a little oil.
- If the flavors have dulled a bit in the fridge, a dash of soy sauce and a little white pepper should reignite them.
- If the sauce in your leftovers has become watery, make a cornstarch slurry (1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water). After reheating your moo goo gai pan in a frying pan, slowly add the slurry, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.
Did you try this moo goo gai pan recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Better than takeout moo goo gai pan recipe that’s savory and a little sour. Ready in less than 25 minutes!
Moo Goo Gai Pan Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
- 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into thin bite size pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced in half
- 1 1/2 cup snow peas
- 1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, drained
- 1/4 cup canned water chestnuts, drained
- 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Put all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, add chicken, mix well and let sit for 20 minutes.
- In a pan over medium high heat, add oil and chicken and cook for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken on a plate and set aside.
- In the same pan, add garlic, mushrooms and snow peas and cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes.
- Add bamboo shoots, chestnuts and chicken and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add ingredients for the sauce and stir. Add cornstarch and water mix and stir until sauce thickens.
- Turn the heat off, season with ground white pepper and serve immediately.
This Moo Goo Gai Pan Recipe will keep refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
Using a wok with a handle for stir fries makes the process of tossing the ingredients easier and helps to evenly coat and spread the sauce.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 326
- Sugar: 6.5 g
- Sodium: 611 mg
- Fat: 13.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 19.9 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 32.1 g
- Cholesterol: 84.5 mg
Keywords: recipe, Asian, easy