This is a better than takeout moo goo gai pan recipe tossed in a golden brown, sour and savory sauce. It’s so tasty you’ll want to drizzle it all over your rice!
What is Moo Goo Gai Pan?
Moo goo gai is a simple Chinese stir fry made with chicken, mushrooms and vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. The ingredients are tossed in a white sauce and served with rice. The Cantonese dialect of Moo goo gai means ‘stir fried chicken with mushrooms.’
A simple name for a simple stir fry that only takes about 20 minutes to make – and boy is it delicious!
Most moo goo gai pan recipes are made Cantonese style, meaning with a gooey white sauce and some ground white pepper. But since I generally prefer Szechuan food over Cantonese, I have tweaked my moo goo gai pan sauce to be more savory. I’m using soy sauce to add more umami, which gives the sauce a golden brown color. I’ve always had a penchant for gravy like sauces as you know!
Here’s the deal.
Making Chinese stir fries has become a weekly thing now.
The more I make them and the more I fall in love with the concept of tossing veggies and a protein into a wok and dressing them with a lovely gooey sauce. It’s so easy, so good and there is also very little cleaning up to do afterward. It’s the best!
Tender Moo Goo Gai Pan Chicken
One of the great cooking techniques China has brought over to America is velveting. Velveting is basically coating or marinating chicken or meat in a mixture of corn starch, sauce and/or egg white. What velveting does is create a barrier from the heat when the chicken cooks, leaving it super moist and silky. For this recipe I’m marinating the chicken in a mixture of rice vinegar, soy sauce and corn starch. I’m letting the chicken marinate for 20 minutes but I recommend leaving it for longer if you have the time. 30-40 minutes yields super moist chicken pieces.
The chicken is then cooked in a pan and set aside. This step is also part of velveting. The poultry or meat is always cooked separately from the rest. Then once the vegetables have cooked long enough to soften, the chicken is re-introduced to the pan and tossed in the sauce. My stir fry sauce is a combination of chicken stock, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. It’s a little sour, sweet, nutty, savory and contains lots and lots of umami. The flavors are assertive but also gentle to the palate. Think of this moo goo gai pan as perfectly seasoned; you won’t need to add salt or soy sauce to it 😉
This is another great recipe to make ahead of time since it keeps well in the fridge. You can pack it up and take it to work (in a cute Bentgo lunchbox) or have it for dinner two or three nights in a row. Trust me, you won’t get tire of it. Especially if you love Chinese takeout as much as I do!
Other quick and easy Chinese stir fry recipes:
- Hunan chicken
- Mongolian chicken
- Garlic shrimp with chili crisp
- Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce
- Black pepper chicken
Did you like 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!
Moo goo gai pan is usually served with medium or long grain rice but I have a major weakness for Japanese rice. Its stickiness absorb the flavor of sauce like no other types of rice can.
Watch our video on How To Make Japanese Rice the stove top or rice cooker method.