Moo goo gai pan is a popular Americanized version of a Chinese chicken mushroom stir-fry dish that is loaded with vegetables. This version is made baby and toddler-friendly with less sodium but plenty flavorful for the entire family to enjoy!
This is actually a dish I was introduced to by my husband. So I'm going to let him take center stage to explain the what makes it so special! Take it away hunnie!
What is Moo Goo Gai Pan? (written by the husband)
Don’t know exactly how this ended up in my mom’s repertoire but if you were to ask me what my mom’s top 5 dishes are, this would definitely be up there. Holidays, special occasions (especially my youngest older sister’s birthday), and church potlucks…if there was reason to celebrate, we were probably eating moo goo gai pan.
With all the kids out of the house for quite some time now, this dish was all but forgotten until it made an unexpected appearance at our Christmas dinner table this past year. The wife and C enjoyed it so much I was inspired to attempt a version that the entire family could enjoy. The challenge? Sodium.
Moo goo gai pan is basically a chicken and vegetable stir fry dish. Most commonly used are snow peas, carrots, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and Chinese cabbage.
Traditionally, this stir fry dish is made with a white sauce, which includes Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) and no soy sauce. And my mom uses a lot of salt to season the dish. I knew that wouldn't fly with my wife.
So here are the tweaks I made. Not quite like my mom makes, but I think we’ll be enjoying this one for some years to come.
If I can be honest with you, I’m a burger and fries guy so sodium levels have never been at the forefront of my concerns.
And I don’t know if this was part of my wife’s master plan, but I recognize that my taste buds, too, have changed. I don’t crave all the salt. I can appreciate other spices to enhance my food and I feel better for it. She’s a crafty one that MJ.
Thanks for inviting me into this space. Now I'm going to pass the baton back to the wife.
- Oil: peanut oil is what's most commonly used in Asian cooking but any neutral flavored oil will do. I personally like to use avocado oil
- Chicken: can use dark meat if you wish
- Mushrooms: any varieties will do. We oftentimes do cremini or white button mushrooms as they're most readily available.
- Cornstarch: will need this to coat the chicken pieces as well as to thicken the sauce
- Canned vegetables: bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, canned straw mushrooms, and baby corn are commonly used. Be sure to check the sodium content and get the ones with the lowest. We were able to find ones with 15 mg/can. They really do have a very distinct flavor so if you're not a fan of any of them, feel free to leave out.
- Other vegetables: Most commonly used are snow peas, carrots, and Chinese cabbage, but you really can use whatever you have on hand. When pressed for time, frozen veggies, like the Normandy blend, work great too!
- just keep in mind that you'll need to adjust cooking time appropriately. It will help to chop them into smaller sized pieces so they'll cook faster and become nice and soft for your baby or toddler.
- Garlic: SO important! Don't skip this one!
Kid-friendly Stir-Fry Sauce:
- Coconut aminos: made from coconut nectar, it's lower in sodium compared to soy sauce. It also works well in this teriyaki sauce. You can certainly use low-sodium soy sauce, if you wish.
- Oyster sauce: this ingredient is essential to any stir-fry or fried rice recipe. It really adds this incredible rich layer of flavor to the dish. However, if you don’t have any on hand, add a little bit more coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce.
- honey or applesauce: You don't need much but it will help balance the savory. But remember! No honey for babies under 1! And if you don't have either one, you can use any sweetener you have, preferably unrefined.
- Chicken broth: Again, look for low or no-salt-added variety.
Step By Step Instructions
30 minutes prior: Marinate chicken. This will result in tender and juicy meat.
2.Cook mushroom and broccoli.
3. Add bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and cook until all the vegetables are softened.
4. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Lightly brown garlic and cook the chicken.
5. Add vegetables back into the pan. Pour in kid-friendly stir-fry sauce (stir if it's separated) and cook until it thickens.
Transfer to a closed container and keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. I wouldn't recommend freezing this as the texture becomes off due to the cornstarch.
Other Baby and Kid-friendly Asian Dishes
- Healthy Korean Ground Beef and Broccoli Quinoa
- Instant Pot Korean Chicken and Potatoes
- Beef Vegetable Rice Porridge
- Orange Sesame Chicken
- Healthy Sweet and Sour Meatball Stir Fry
- Asian Shrimp Tofu Cakes
- Teriyaki glazed salmon
- Korean Bulgogi
- Bibimbap with Beet Sauce
Did you make this baby and toddler-friendly Moo Goo Gai Pan? Follow me on Instagram post a photo and tag me, post a photo on my Facebook page, or save it to Pinterest. I love to see what you're making!
Low-Sodium Moo Goo Gai Pan
For the marinade:
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts , cut into thin strips
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- a pinch of black pepper
For the vegetables:
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) avocado oil, divided
- ½ cup (70g) thinly sliced carrots
- 1 ½ cups (125g) sliced mushrooms, cremini or white button mushrooms
- 1 ½ cups (130g) broccoli florets
- 1 (8 ounce) can bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained
- 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
For the sauce:
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) honey or unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons (5ml) oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) sesame oil
- ¼ cup low to no-salt added chicken broth
- Marinate: In a bowl, mix together water and cornstarch and pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and cook 2- minutes.
- Add mushrooms and broccoli and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove veggies from skillet and set aside. Wipe pan clean.
- Add the rest of the oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Lightly brown garlic.
- Add chicken to pan. Cook until cooked through.
- Add veggies back to pan and heat for 1-2 minutes. Pour in sauce and cook until it thickens, about 30 seconds to a minute.
- This dish is suitable for babies 9 months and up. I would chop/shred the chicken and vegetables and serve with cooked rice or other grains.
- Can make extra sauce and add more to the adult portion if you wish.
- Transfer to a closed container and keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. I wouldn't recommend freezing this as the texture becomes off due to the cornstarch.