Meet your new favorite: Moo Shu Chicken wrapped in low carb pancakes that tastes like what you get at high-end restaurants but better! With bamboo shoots, tender chicken, crunchy veggies, and my homemade hoisin sauce, serve the mu shu chicken over rice or wrap in thin pancakes for a fantastic homemade takeout!
MOO SHU CHICKEN
Moo shu chicken with mandarin pancakes reminds me of a Taiwanese dish, called run bing (潤餅 or 春捲皮). The two dishes are quite similar with thin sliced meat (often pork), shredded vegetables, and shiitake mushrooms wrapped in soft and thin wraps. The flavors are sweet and savory and it’s a delicious dish that’s loaded with fresh vegetables.
In Taiwan, my mom makes her version of Moo Shu often during spring festivals. The Taiwanese version has roasted sweet peanut powder sprinkled in the wraps. If you ever have a chance to see run bing in the night markets or food festivals, I highly recommend that you give it a try.
Today, we are making a hybrid version of Moo Shu Chicken, taken from my memories of mom’s cooking and Chinese American takeout cuisine. Preparation is the key to make a great moo shu. The actual cook time is fairly short and straight forward. Let me walk you through how to make this dish at home easily and I’ve modified it for my readers who are gluten-free, paleo, and/or Whole30.
WHAT IS MOO SHU CHICKEN?
Moo (or Mu) is short for 木耳 (mù’ěr), which refers to wood ear mushrooms.
Shu 须 (xū) means whiskers.
When you combine the two characters Moo Shu or Mu Shu, it could also refer to the Osmanthus blossoms.
It’s said that the color of scrambled eggs (light yellow and white color) resemble the flower blossoms and therefore they are used in the moo shu stir-fry.
WHAT GOES IN THE DISH?
My moo shu chicken is a hybrid version of Chinese/Taiwanese/American-Chinese dish. 🙂 The ingredient lists might look a bit long and some might look unfamiliar but no worries, I’ll tell you what items are must-have and others you can skip!
- Shiitake mushrooms – either dried and reconstituted or fresh. A must-have.
- Bamboo shoots – this is a must-have as it defines the flavor of Moo Shu!
- Dried wood ear mushrooms – reconstituted. This is optional.
- Chicken – I use chicken breasts
- Cucumbers – Use mini or mini persian cucumbers
- Carrots – This is my own touch to add color and crunch
- Eggs – scrambled
- Homemade hoisin sauce – this sauce is a must-have so make a jar first!
- Mandarin pancakes – I took a shortcut and used Crepini keto egg wraps. This is optional.
SOME NOTES ABOUT THE MU SHU CHICKEN INGREDIENTS:
I want to point out ingredients that are typically used in an authentic moo shu chicken recipe and my workaround to keep this dish more accessible for everyone.
WOOD EAR MUSHROOMS (OPTIONAL)
The dried wood ear mushrooms are an optional ingredient. It’s a texture food that’s a bit crunchy and slightly woody but nothing too distinct that will affect a dish’s flavor if you don’t use it. How to use it? Soak it in room temperature water for about 30-40 minutes and they will puff up and return to the original texture.
DRIED LILY BUDS (NOT USED IN THE RECIPE)
Dried lily buds are not used here. They add a musky, floral, and earthy flavor to the dish. Similar to the dried wood ear mushrooms, you need to reconstitute them first before using. An authentic moo shu dish will include dried lily buds.
BAMBOO SHOOTS (A MUST-HAVE)
This is a must-have in my opinion. I use canned bamboo shoots (product link in recipe card). They add a distinct flavor to the dish. Without it, this dish becomes another shredded veggie stir-fry that pretty much looks and tastes all alike.
DRIED OR FRESH SHIITAKE (A MUST-HAVE)
I use dried shiitake and reconstitute with hot water for about an hour. You can also use fresh shiitake. But note that dried shiitake has a stronger and more woody flavor than fresh shiitake and that makes the moo shu recipe more distinct and special.
Many of the dried Chinese ingredients (wood ear mushrooms, lily buds, shiitake) come in big packets in the stores, they last a long time if you store them well and away from moisture and heat. If you happen to have them, here are some recipes that can help you use them – my Chinese hot and sour soup, Chinese chicken soup, Chinese bone broth, shiitake with bok choy stir-fry, or chicken cabbage and shiitake soup.
HOW TO MAKE MOO SHU CHICKEN
Preparation is the key to make moo shu chicken! The actual cook time is fairly short and straightforward so you want to have everything prepared before you start stir-frying!
- Start with making a homemade hoisin sauce. This is used to go with the mandarin pancakes and as a stir-fry sauce, too!
- Slice the chicken breasts and add the seasonings.
- Set the cucumbers and carrots in one bowl. All the mushrooms in a second bowl. And the aromatics in a plate.
- Start stir-frying:
- Make scrambled eggs and set them aside.
- Saute the chicken and set aside.
- Saute the aromatics and once they are fragrant, add the vegetables and the mushrooms.
- Return the chicken and eggs to the wok, add the hoisin sauce, salt, and white pepper to taste.
- Serve the mu shu chicken with the pancakes and the hoisin sauce or enjoy the dish with rice!
HOW TO SERVE MOO SHU CHICKEN
Moo shu chicken is often served with steamed white rice in Asia. In Chinese-American style, it’s often served with thin mandarin pancakes. I took a shortcut to use Crepini egg wraps (link in my recipe) to keep the carb count as low as possible without making the process overly lengthy,
My mu shu chicken is loaded with veggies and it’s a perfect example of one pot meal. Here are some more side dish suggestions if you want extra vegetables on the side – Bok choy salad, Asian chopped salad, Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce, Sauteed snow pea leaves in garlic sauce, Asian cucumber salad, or Chinese mustard greens in ginger sauce.
MOO SHU CHICKEN (PALEO, WHOLE30, GLUTEN-FREE)
For the chicken:
- ¾ lb chicken breasts, slice to thin strips
- ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp coconut aminos
- ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp arrowroot starch, or tapioca starch
For the vegetables and eggs:
- 0.45 oz dried wood ear mushrooms, optional
- 1.3 oz dried shiitake, or 5 oz. fresh shiitake, sliced
- 8 oz. canned bamboo shoots, drained
- 8 oz. mini cucumbers, sliced on diagonal
- 4 oz. carrots, thinly sliced on diagonal
- 2 large eggs, whisked
For the aromatics:
- 2.4 oz yellow onion, diced, about half of 1 small onion
- 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
For the Moo Shu Chicken sauce:
- 3 tbsp homemade hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp stock
- ½ tbsp coconut aminos
- Dash of white pepper
- 3.5 tbsp avocado oil
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
- White pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp stock
- Toasted sesame oil, to taste
- 1 packet Crepeni egg wraps, optional
Before you begin, if you use dried wood ear mushrooms and shiitake, they need to be reconstituted first. Soak the wood ear in room temperature water for 30-40 minutes (check after 20 minutes as you might need to add more water). Soak the shiitake in hot water for 1 – 1.5 hours. They will puff up and return to the original texture. This dish is all about preparation. The actual cook time is fairly short so please read through the recipe first before you begin.
Chicken – Halve the chicken breast then slice to thin strips. Add them to a bowl with the seasonings. Set it aside in the fridge.
Mushrooms and bamboo shoots – Use your hands to tear the wood ear mushrooms in half, if using. Slice the shiitake into strips. Drain the bamboo shoots and set these three items in one big bowl.
Vegetables – Slice the carrots slightly thinner than the cucumbers so the cook time will be even. Set them in another bowl.
Eggs – Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and whisked well in a third bowl.
Aromatics – Dice the onion and finely mince the ginger. Set them aside on a small plate.
Moo shu sauce – stir well in a small bowl.
Preheat a large saute pan or wok over medium heat until it feels warm to your palm, when placing it 2-3 inches away. Add 1 tbsp oil. Add the eggs and swirl it around the pan. As soon as the eggs form shape, break it up to make soft scrambled eggs. Scrop out the eggs and set them aside.
In the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil. Add the chicken. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Spread the strips out in an even layer so they cook evenly. Season with a small pinch of salt. As soon as the bottom side turns white, flip and keep stirring and stir-frying until they are cooked through. You want the meat tender, cooked, but not overly cooked. Scoop out and set aside.
Add 1.5 tbsp oil. Saute the onion and ginger over medium-high heat with a pinch of salt and a dash of white pepper for about 10 seconds. Add the carrots and cucumbers. Season with a touch more salt and white pepper. Saute for 1 minute. Then add the mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Deglaze the pan with 2 tbsp stock and saute for 1 minute.
Return the eggs and chicken to the pan, pour-in the sauce and toss to coat the sauce all over.
Transfer the food to a large serving plate. Taste and season with more salt, white pepper, and toasted sesame oil, if desired. Serve with rice or the thin pancakes with extra hoisin sauce on the side.
Shiitake and bamboo shoots are must-have items as they define the flavor of moo shu chicken. I recommend using dried shiitake and reconstitute it as the flavor is more apparent and distinct. You can, however, use fresh shiitake, too!
Wood ear mushrooms (optional)The dried wood ear mushrooms is an optional ingredient. It’s a texture food that’s a bit crunchy and slightly woody but nothing too distinct that will affect a dish’s flavor if you don’t use it. How to use it? Soak it in room temperature water for about 30-40 minutes (check after 20 minutes to add more water) and they will puff up and return to the original texture.
Dried lily buds (not used in the recipe)Dried lily buds are not used here. They add a musky, floral, and earthy flavor to the dish. Similar to the dried wood ear mushrooms, you need to reconstitute them first before using. An authentic moo shu dish will include dried lily buds.