What is Moo Goo Gai Pan?

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Moo goo gai pan is a chicken and mushroom stir-fried dish adapted for American tastes from the Cantonese dish, mah gu gai pin. In Cantonese, moo goo refers to the button mushrooms, gai to the chicken, and pan to the fact that the chicken is to be sliced. The vegetables and seasonings vary widely in this dish, but mushrooms and chicken are always used.

Other types of mushrooms can be substituted, but button mushrooms left whole are the traditional choice. Boneless chicken breast is used to make moo goo gai pan. Chinese cabbage and other Chinese vegetables are used in the original mah gu gai pin. Bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and snow peas may be used in some versions, while others just have broccoli along with the chicken and mushrooms.

Mah gu gai gin and some versions of moo goo gai pan contain oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is a dark sauce invented by Lee Kam Sheung, the founder of the Lee Kum Kee Company, in China's Guangdong Province in 1888. A sort of sweet and sour sauce called hoisin sauce is also sometimes used in these stir fries. Hoisin sauce is sometimes spicy and may be too strong for some Western tastes. Sesame oil may also flavor the dish, and peanut oil may be used for the stir frying.


Chinese rice wine may be used in recipes as well. It's produced from fermented glutinous rice, and the cooking varieties usually have less alcohol in them than those meant for drinking. Some Western chefs substitute cooking sherry for the rice wine, and pale dry sherry is considered a good substitute. Sake, the Japanese version of rice wine, does not make a good substituted because it is much sweeter than Chinese rice wine.


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Post 9
Is Cantonese stir-fry same as Chinese stir-fry?

This sounds like Chinese stir-fry, but I have never heard of it before. I'm guessing that Canton is a part of China?

I don't think other Asian cultures have stir-fry, right?

Post 8

Can I use duck sauce instead of oyster sauce in this dish?

That's all I have at home.

Post 7

@lil_moon-- Same here!

I normally don't like mushrooms, but I do like button mushrooms. Have you ever had them before?

The are so good! They have a lot of flavor and require little work because you don't have to slice them since they're small. It's not supposed to be sliced for moo goo gai pan anyway.

You should definitely try this dish when you have the opportunity. It's very delicious and also quite healthy!

Post 6

@Potterspop - I feel for you, especially as I know how easy it is to overdo the portion size when it comes to such delicious food.

When I became a vegetarian I bought a cookbook with non meat versions of my favorite dishes. Now I can produce a lovely Moo Goo Gai Pan recipe made from firm tofu and endless vegetables, including water chestnuts.

My boyfriend teases me that it should have a new name or be made with fake protein, so it at least looks like chicken meat is in it! He still tucks in though, and sometimes even chooses to make it himself, rather than his go to meal of chicken fried rice!

Post 5

I used to practically live off Chinese restaurant food and Cantonese takeaways when I was a student. Kung Pao or Hunan chicken were my staples until I discovered Moo Goo Gai Pan.

It was love at first bite and I refused to order anything else. Then I realized I had gained fifteen pounds in as many weeks! My roommate found a website which listed the calories in Moo Goo Gai Pan and I was shocked.

It did inspire me to find a recipe for stir fry variations, with more vegetables and less fat, and I managed to get back in shape. Just be careful to limit how much you eat of the less healthy types out there.

Post 3

@lil_moon - I have never liked mushrooms. If I knew there were mushrooms in a dish, I would not eat it. I always pick mushrooms off of pizza. I, like you, had no idea that moo goo gai pan had mushrooms in it and I eat it quite often and LOVE it! Perhaps I have been too hard on mushrooms. It is a delicious dish. You should try it!

Post 1

I love chicken and mushrooms, and yet I never realized that these were the main ingredients in this dish! I'll have to try this soon.

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