Moo Goo Gai Pan
Moo Goo Gai Pan is healthy, delicious and on your table in less than 30 minutes! Moo Goo Gai Pan is a quick and easy chicken stir fry boasting tender, juicy chicken and mushrooms smothered in a Chinese white sauce. I’ve included classic water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, carrots and snow peas but you can add whatever veggies your heart desires – or simply whatever your fridge has on hand. This Moo Goo Gai Pan recipe utilizes the easy restaurant velveting technique to produce smooth, tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken you will have to taste to believe! Now prepare to enjoy this wonderfully healthy, satisfying, versatile chicken stir fry!
Servings 6 -8 servings
- 1 pound chicken breasts sliced 1/4-inch thick
- peanut, vegetable or canola oil
- 4-6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms sliced 1/4-1/2” thick
- 1 cup THINLY sliced carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions white parts only
- 1 8 oz. can bamboo shoots well drained
- 1 8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts well drained
- 4 oz. (1 heaping cup) snow peas ends trimmed
- 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts or cashews
Add the velveting ingredients to a large freezer bag or bowl; whisk to combine. Add chicken and turn until evenly coated. Let sit at room temperature while you prep your veggies; preferable 30 minutes (no more).
Meanwhile, whisk Sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
Optional: add cashews to empty skillet and dry roast over medium heat until golden in spots, remove to a plate.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once very hot, add chicken in a single layer and cook until golden, about 30 seconds; flip chicken over and sear the other side. Remove chicken to a plate (chicken will not be cooked through yet).
To the now empty pan (don’t wipe out), heat one tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, mushrooms and green onions; stir fry until vegetables are crisp tender, 2-3 minutes (don’t over-cook because they will continue to cook in sauce). Add bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, garlic and ginger to the veggies and stir fry one additional minute.
Add chicken back to pan. Whisk sauce (to recombine) and add to pan. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce to a simmer until sauce has thickened;1-2 minutes. Stir in snow peas, and cashews and cook one additional minute.
Garnish with additional chili sauce and additional green onions. Serve with rice and freshly cracked, salt and pepper to taste.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Use the correct skillet. You don’t need a wok to make fabulous tasting Moo Goo Gai Pan or any stir fry, you just need a large (12 to 14-inch), well-seasoned pan with high edges. Using a large pan is crucial so all the ingredients have room to move around and can actually stir “fry” and not just steam.
- Freeze chicken. Chicken is much easier to thinly slice if partially frozen. Place the chicken breasts in the freezer for about 20 minutes. This firms up the chicken just enough so it doesn’t move under your knife when slicing. It will defrost completely with the velveting ingredients.
- Prep veggies and sauce first. While your chicken is marinating, chop all your veggies and prep your sauce. You want everything ready before you start your stir frying because the actually cooking just takes a few minutes. If you have to stop to make your sauce while your veggies are still in the pan, they can end up soft and even worse – mushy.
- How to chop ingredients. The most important key to making a good stir-fry is cutting each ingredient to a uniform size as specified in the recipe. As detailed in this Moo Goo Gai Pan recipe, slice the mushrooms on the thicker side so they don’t disappear and slice the carrots thinly so they will be crisp-tender by the time we’re done stir frying.
- Dry vegetables. It is important that the vegetables are very dry or they will steam and not get the characteristic stir-fry texture. To dry vegetables, pat them thoroughly with a kitchen towel or use a salad spinner. Also, do NOT wash your mushrooms or they will absorb water like a sponge. Instead, wipe them clean.
- Cook chicken first. Don’t cook the chicken and veggies together because we want to brown the chicken (color + flavor) which can’t happen with all the veggies in the pan. The chicken will also leave behind yummy brown bits which will give the chicken flavor.
- Hot but not too hot skillet. Your pan should be hot enough so that the chicken and veggies sizzle when they touch the pan and continue to sizzle but the pan shouldn’t be so hot that it smokes excessively once you add the oil. If the pan is smoking hot, remove it from heat, let it cool slightly then return to heat. To determine if the wok is hot enough, flick a few droplets of water onto the skillet or wok. The beads of water should evaporate within 2 seconds.
- Don’t overcook chicken. For the juiciest chicken, don’t overcook! Brown it in the skillet but let it finish cooking in the sauce.
- Don’t overcook veggies. I suggest setting the timer for 2 minutes for the initial stir frying of your veggies – it can go fast and you don’t want to overcook them initially. It is better to under-cook them when stir frying then allow them to reach desired-crisp tenderness once you add the stir fry sauce.
- Add sauce to the sides of the pan. Pour the stir fry sauce around and down the sides of the pan instead of directly into the center. This will prevent the pan from cooling down too much.
This easy Moo Goo Gai Pan recipe reheats well for anticipatory lunches or dinners, just take care to not overcook the chicken and veggies initially.
- How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- How to reheat in microwave: transfer small portions to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals.
- How to reheat on the stove: For larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often. You may need to add a splash of water (better yet chicken broth if you have it) to thin the sauce as needed.
You can prep all of the ingredients ahead of time so this Moo Goo Gai Pan can come together in minutes:
- Whisk the Moo Goo Gai Pan sauce ingredients together and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let the sauce sit at room temperature while preparing the stir-fry; whisk again before using.
- Add the velveting ingredients to a large Ziploc bag.
- Slice chicken and store in a separate container in the refrigerator (not with velveting ingredients).
- Chop the veggies, green onions, garlic and ginger and store in separate baggies/containers in the refrigerator.
- Within the next 48 hours, proceed with the recipe without any of the prep!