Moo goo gai pan is a Chinese stir-fry dish featuring marinated chicken, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and fresh vegetables that is finished with a sauce made from wine, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Better than takeout.
You may know “moo goo gai pan” as an item on the Chinese takeout menu that’s safe for less adventurous eaters. This recipe adheres to the traditional ingredients of poultry and mushrooms to accommodate those diners yet the author also encourages you to be a little adventurous regarding your choice of ingredients.–Angie Zoobkoff
Moo Goo Gai Pan
For the marinade
- 2 large egg whites lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, or flour
- A healthy pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 pound boneless, skinless white meat such as chicken, turkey, pheasant, or grouse, thinly sliced into strips
For the sauce
- 1/2 cup canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
- 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine or white wine
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch flour, potato starch, or tapioca starch
For the moo goo gai pan
- 2 cups peanut or other vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 4 thin slices fresh ginger
- 1/2 pound assorted fresh mushrooms cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
- 1/2 pound fresh vegetables cut into bite-size lengths (such as snow peas, very thinly sliced carrots, bamboo shoots, green or white asparagus, or a combination)
- Sesame oil for garnish
- Chopped scallions for garnish
- Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Steamed rice for serving
Make the marinade
- In a mediumish bowl, whisk together the egg whites, starch or flour, salt, and pepper, mixing completely until the starch or flour is completely incorporated into the mixture. Add the meat and mix to thoroughly coat each piece. Let this rest at room temperature while you chop the vegetables and up to 30 minutes.
Make the sauce
- In a smallish bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients.
Make the moo goo gai pan
- In a wok or large saucepan, heat the oil to about 350°F (175°C). (If you don’t have a thermometer, you want the end of a wooden chopstick to sizzle immediately when you place the tip in the oil.) Line a plate with paper towels. Add about 1/3 of the meat to the wok or pan, using chopsticks or tongs to separate the pieces as they hit the hot oil and turn them occasionally. Stir-fry until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining meat, working in batches.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and very carefully drain the oil into a dry container. Wipe out the wok. Add back a tablespoon or so of the oil and heat it over high heat.
- When the oil starts to shimmer but not quite smoke, add the sliced garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant but not burnt, about 20 seconds. Stir in the mushrooms and the stock and stir-fry for about 30 seconds longer. Cover the wok and cook for 1 minute.
- Return the meat to the wok along with the vegetables and stir-fry 30 seconds. Stir the sauce well, then pour it into the wok. Stir-fry this for 1 minute, turn off the heat, and add the sesame oil, green onions, and, if desired, cilantro.
- Serve immediately with plenty of steamed rice to soak up the plentiful sauce.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I expected to like this recipe but, to be honest, I was quite surprised at just how good it was. I don’t cook grouse very often but it is plentiful here and really easy to get fresh.
I sliced the grouse quite thinly so it only took 2 minutes to deep fry, before being finished off in the wok.
I used a mixture of mushrooms—cremini, chanterelles, and chicken of the woods—as well as the asparagus. I didn’t have any grouse or pheasant broth so I just used my own chicken broth and I think it was fine. The only change I made was to serve it with rice noodles rather than rice.
I think the part of the recipe that I liked the most was the egg white marinade. It makes the meat crisp without being too heavy. The coating also retains its crispiness when the sauce is added. I will definitely use this marinade for other Asian dishes that require “breading” in the future.
I will definitely make this again with chicken or even grouse when I have the opportunity. The sauce is velvety and flavorful and the marinade really makes this dish. There was enough for leftovers the next day and the coating stood up to being in the fridge overnight covered in the sauce.
I used chicken for this recipe along with Baby Bella mushrooms and it turned out very well. Not as “glitzy” as you would get in a Chinese restaurant but definitely more authentic to the Chinese original. I added the optional asparagus which was in season. Overall, an easy dish to prepare.
Since we are only 2 tasters, the leftovers made a second meal for us and heated up very well.
I enjoyed this take on a classic dish. It was light, had good flavor, and with all the prep in order it was quick cooking.
I liked the consistency of the sauce here—not too thick but still thick enough to feel like a true sauce that brings everything together. I also appreciated the ratio of mushrooms to asparagus, and as my husband said, this felt like essentially a good vegetable dish with some chicken rather than a chicken dish with some vegetable. In my mind, this was a good thing, but maybe it would bother others.
I purchased shiitakes because they looked like the best of the lot in the store that day but I’m sure a mix of mushrooms would be enjoyable. I’m not sure if the chicken was really supposed to have more of a crust from the frying. Mine didn’t.
This recipe can be the basis for a very easy-to-repeat dish that’s flexible with regards the protein choice as well as the level of daring, whether you chose ordinary mushrooms and poultry or more exotic game and funghi.
I think the technique lesson alone is worth knowing for anyone wanting to cook white meat in stir-fry while retaining a scrummy moistness. I would caution that as written, this will be a fairly wet dish, which yields lots of sauce for serving with rice or noodles, but also might need extra reducing. Making this again, I would probably reduce the sauce liquid by nearly half while increasing the ginger and possibly shredding it.
When whisking the egg white together with the pepper and cornstarch, spend an extra minute or two to thoroughly dissolve the cornstarch in the mixture. The pepper will give the chicken a good flavor and was a good addition to velveting the meat. It sat while I prepared the mushrooms and asparagus, though I gave it a stir a couple of times to make sure the egg white was evenly coating all surfaces.
My wok quickly heated (this was a clean wok, so I used a “drip of water skipping” test to know my wok was hot enough) then I added a tablespoon of oil. You want to watch the ginger and garlic and make sure it doesn’t burn. The 20 seconds is plenty because it will continue cooking Your stir-frying time may vary if you use a maitake or hen of the woods, or as I did, button mushrooms, and thicker asparagus may dictate a minute more. I kept the heat high after adding the sauce and reduced it to a velvety consistency (and the cornstarch will have cooked), about 2 to 3 minutes more than indicated. The result was a mildly flavoured chicken dish, but well balanced, perfectly cooked chicken, and consistent with what I would expect with a Cantonese dish.
Because there were just two of us, I reserved half for the next day. I added a few more vegetables and more ginger, stir-frying those first, and then adding the leftover Moo Goo Gai Pan and wide noodles (fresh noodles, cooked briefly, drained, tossed with a bit of sesame oil). The resulting dish was a bonus every bit as good as the previous night’s dinner, and it made very good use of the extra sauce.
Originally published February 07, 2019
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Finally a recipe for Moo Goo Gai Pan that is a close match to my favorite Chinese takeout dish!
I used black pepper, button mushrooms, and chicken to cut down on cost. I did use the asparagus and it was tasty!
Next time, to make it even more like my favorite take out, I will add sliced carrots and snow peas to the mushrooms rather than the asparagus. I am also going to try to hunt down Shaoxing wine to replace the white wine. Finally, to save time and calories, I am going to skip the marinade and simply use the cornstarch and the pepper to coat the chicken and saute rather than fry.