Moo Goo Guy Pan, 蘑菇雞片

Moo goo guy pan – a result of cultural fusion?

Moo Goo Guy Pan Recipe

Moo Goo Guy Pan

One of the blessed things about Toronto today is that you can find authentic restaurants of virtually any cuisine in the world. Thanks to the ethnic mosaic in Canada, we have this beautiful array of food and history in our restaurant scene. Points for immigration!

This wasn’t always the case though – authentic Chinese dishes in a restaurant setting simply didn’t exist; instead there were Chinese-inspired culinary creations dominating the Chinese restaurants’ menus up into the late 1900s. Some famous dishes like crispy egg rolls, deep-fried chicken balls, egg foo young, moo goo guy (gai) pan, chop suey and egg fried rice were common items on many menus at Chinese-Canadian restaurants. These dishes were often not representative of true Cantonese cuisine, but was heavily modified to match the tastes of the dominant caucasian communities and was also influenced by the availability of ingredients back then.

Although you wouldn’t find any of those dishes from the takeout menu in a classical Chinese home, you’ll notice that the preparation style, ingredients and cooking methods derived directly from the Chinese (specifically Taishanese) roots of the immigrants.

The Name

My own curiosity of this dish came from me trying to figure out the Chinese translation of the dish. I can see that “moo goo guy pan” is supposed to be a transliteration of the dish name to phonetically sound like the Chinese name, but I’m afraid it has been modified to make it easier to pronounce. The more accurate transliteration of that dish in Cantonese is “maw goo guy peen” or 蘑菇雞片.

  • Maw Goo 蘑菇 – Mushroom
  • Guy (Gai) 雞 – Chicken
  • Peen 片 – Slices

Back when my dad was growing up, he remembers that there was a big Chinese restaurant on Elizabeth Street called Lichee Garden. This was a perfect example of a restaurant that didn’t really cater to the surrounding Chinese community but offered it’s food for the curious who wanted to try something exotic.

Lichee Garden Toronto Ontario

Lichee Garden Restaurant, “Exotic” Chinese food. Check out that dude’s side burns.

I’m not sure if they did have this dish, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they did in fact serve it.

Cooking Method and Ingredients for Moo Goo Guy Pan, 蘑菇雞片

For this recipe, you’ll need to have a frying-pan or a wok to do the stir-fry. Unlike the other recipes that I posted that require steaming, this recipe calls for cooking on a high heat. The trick to making sure that none of your ingredients are overcooked or burnt is to have all of your ingredients ready before tossing anything into the pan. With that said, the bulk of the work in this recipe is in the preparation of the ingredients itself. Equipping yourself with a good knife is going to help you a lot with the process and save you quite a bit of time.

In terms of the vegetables in this dish, you can mix and match with ones that you like or are in season. The beauty of this dish is there is no one true way to make it and substitutions in terms of protein and vegetables is really how many of the Chinese restaurants invented them.

The only thing I will mention is that if you can find Water Chestnuts, they are a wonderful crisp and sweet addition and has a texture similar to that of an apple. You can usually find them in a Chinese grocery store, but you can omit these if they’re too hard to find.

Ingredients for Moo Goo Guy Pan, 蘑菇雞片

Moo Goo Guy Pan Recipe, 蘑菇雞片

Here are all the produce and protein used for this dish.

Moo goo guy pan, 蘑菇雞片

And here is all of the seasoning required.

Produce and Meats

  • 1 chicken breasts skinned and deboned
  • 6 water chestnuts skinned and sliced (use more or less as desired)
  • ¼ lb of snow peas
  • ¼ lb of small white button mushrooms halved
  • 1 red pepper cut into ½” slices
  • 1 medium white onion sectioned into half inch wedges
  • 1/2 Carrot thinly sliced (12-15 slices)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • 4 thin slices of ginger

Seasoning for Chicken

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey (can also use Chinese cooking wine or sherry)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Seasoning for Dish

  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon powdered chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil to stir-fry the dish

Instructions for Moo Goo Guy Pan, 蘑菇雞片

  1. Prepare the snow peas by washing them first. Then snap the ends off with your fingers and gently pull along the side to take off the “string”. Keeps the peas tender.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Peel the “string” off of the snow peas to make them more tender.

  2. Peel and slice the carrots into thin slices, making sure every piece is even in size.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Slice the carrots on a bias, ensuring that each piece is even in size.

  3. Peel and prepare your water chestnuts by cutting off the tops and bottoms and then use a paring knife to peel it. You’ll then want to cut the water chestnuts into thin slices like the carrot.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片, How to Prepare Water Chestnuts

    Cut off the tops and bottoms of the water chestnuts.

    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    With a paring knife, cut off the skin of the water chestnut.

    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Slice up the water chestnut into even pieces. The thicker you leave it, the crunchier it is.

  4. Smash the garlic and slice it finely.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Slice up the garlic.

  5. Peel and cut the onion into half inch wedges.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Get the onion and ginger peeled and sliced.

  6. Wash and cut the red bell pepper into thin slices, again try to keep it even in size.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Start off by quartering your bell peppers.

    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    …then slice it into slivers

  7. Gently wash your mushrooms with a paper towel or cloth and then proceed to cut them in half.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Cut the mushrooms in half after you have cleaned them.

  8. Slice the chicken breast into ½” slices and marinate in a bowl with salt, soy sauce, chicken stock, sesame oil, whiskey, black pepper and starch. Mix well and allow to marinate for a least 15 minutes to an hour in the fridge.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Cut up your chicken in even slices. This is an important step to make sure your chicken is perfectly cooked.

    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Throw in the seasoning with the chicken and allow to sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, up to an hour.

  9. Heat up the wok with some water to blanch or flash boil the carrots, this is to cook it ever so slightly to get the perfect texture. Wait until the water boils and then throw in the sliced carrots for 90 seconds, drain and set aside.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Blanching the carrots is a really quick procedure, so make sure to be alert and have your strainer ready by the sink.

  10. Heat up a wok until just about smoking. Add 2-3 tablespoon of oil and throw in the garlic and ginger to infuse the oil for no more than 10 seconds. Throw in the chicken breast and stir fry this for about 1-2 minutes – do not over cook (but don’t undercook it either).
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Throw in your ginger and garlic in the hot oil. Do not let it sit long or the garlic will burn.

    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    Throw in your chicken and begin the cooking process.

  11. Toss in the mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, snow peas, water chestnuts and carrots and stir-fry this for about 2 minutes.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    And then toss in the rest of your vegetables.

  12. Add all ingredients for the sauce into a bowl and mix well and then add this to the wok mixture and stir until thickened.
  13. Plate and serve!
  14. As an optional step, you can stir-fry the onions separately to give it a nice snappy crunch. We used Spanish onion for this recipe, so it was nice and sweet.
    Moo goo guy pan recipe, 蘑菇雞片

    You can stir-fry the onions separately if you want a nicer crunch on the vegetables.

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Moo Goo Guy Pan 蘑菇雞片 Recipe
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese-Canadian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A classic dish that could be found in many Chinese-Canadian restaurants throughout the 1900s. Literally translated to "mushroom chicken slices" this is a dish that uses the Cantonese stir-fry technique to create.
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken breasts skinned and deboned
  • 6 water chestnuts skinned and sliced (use more or less as desired)
  • ¼ lb of snow peas
  • ¼ lb of small white button mushrooms halved
  • 1 red pepper cut into ½” slices
  • 1 medium white onion sectioned into half inch wedges
  • ½ Carrot thinly sliced (12-15 slices)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • 4 thin slices of ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey (can also use Chinese cooking wine or sherry)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon powdered chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil to stir-fry the dish
Instructions
  1. Prepare the snow peas by washing them first. Then snap the ends off with your fingers and gently pull along the side to take off the “string”. Keeps the peas tender.
  2. Peel and slice the carrots into thin slices, making sure every piece is even in size.
  3. Peel and prepare your water chestnuts by cutting off the tops and bottoms and then use a paring knife to peel it. You’ll then want to cut the water chestnuts into thin slices like the carrot.
  4. Smash the garlic and get a fine dice on it.
  5. Peel and cut the onion into half inch wedges.
  6. Wash and cut the red bell pepper into thin slices, again try to keep it even in size.
  7. Gently wash your mushrooms with a paper towel or cloth and then proceed to cut them in half.
  8. Slice the chicken breast into ½” slices and marinate in a bowl with salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, whiskey, black pepper and starch. Mix well and allow to marinate for a least 15 minutes to an hour in the fridge.
  9. Heat up the wok with some water to blanch or flash boil the carrots, this is to cook it ever so slightly to get the perfect texture. Wait until the water boils and then throw in the sliced carrots for 90 seconds, drain and set aside.
  10. Heat up a wok until just about smoking. Add 2-3 tablespoon of oil and throw in the garlic and ginger to infuse the oil for no more than 20 seconds. Throw in the chicken breast and stir fry this for about 2 minutes – do not over cook.
  11. Toss in the mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, snow peas, water chestnuts and carrots and stir-fry this for about 2 minutes.
  12. Add all ingredients for the sauce into a bowl and mix well and then add this to the wok mixture and stir until thickened.
  13. Plate and serve!
  14. As an optional step, you can stir-fry the onions separately to give it a nice snappy crunch. We used Spanish onion for this recipe, so it was nice and sweet.
 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and make it one day!

Until we dine again!

– The Piquey Eater