Moo Shu Chicken With Pancakes

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I love moo shu chicken with pancakes . It’s such a great dish where you get to wrap everything up yourself so I can include whatever I want. To me, this is the best part about moo shu chicken with pancakes . It’s like a big burrito, where you can add everything you love from rice, to vegetables, to meat and sauces.

Mu Shu Chicken

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 40 min (includes marinating time)
  • Active: 1 hr 40 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

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1/3 cup hoisin sauce, plus more for serving

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons mirin

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 red pepper, seeded, membrane removed, julienned

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/2 medium head green cabbage, finely shredded

1/2 large head Napa cabbage, finely shredded

1/2 medium head purple cabbage, finely shredded

1/2 cup julienned carrots

1 cup sliced button mushrooms

1/4 cup shaved bamboo shoots, drained

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained

4 eggs, beaten

2 recipes Chinese Crepes with Scallions, recipe follows

3 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds

1 small bunch scallions, finely shaved

Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving, optional

Sriracha, for serving, optional

Chinese Crepes with Scallions

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup rice flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 eggs

2 scallions, finely sliced

Nonstick cooking sprayAdd to Shopping List

Directions

  1. Whisk the hoisin, soy, mirin, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sliced chicken and toss to coat evenly. Marinate the chicken, covered, at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Once 5 minutes of marinating time remains, heat a large wok or skillet over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil to heat. Using a slotted spoon, strain the chicken add to the very hot wok or skillet. Cook, allowing it to brown, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and the onion slices, allowing them to soften, another minute. Next, add the cabbages and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until just browning, about 2 minutes. Push the chicken and vegetables to the side of the wok and stir in the mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Remove from the heat and set aside, keeping warm.
  3. Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add the beaten eggs to the skillet, allowing to scramble, 2 to 3 minutes. Once cooked, break up the eggs with a rubber spatula and add to the chicken. Toss to combine.
  4. Spread about 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce on each Chinese Crepes with Scallions. Top with some mu shu chicken, sesame seeds and scallions. Add cilantro leaves if desired. Roll up like a crepe and serve with Sriracha if desired.

Chinese Crepes with Scallions

  1. In a medium glass mixing bowl, whisk the flours, salt, 1 cup water, the sesame oil and eggs; the batter should be smooth and free of lumps. 
  2. Heat a crepe pan or 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Very lightly coat the skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle in 1/4 cup of the batter. Gently rotate the skillet for a few seconds, swirling the batter to create a thin, even layer over the bottom. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons scallions to each pancake at this point. Cook the pancake until the underside is pale and just firmed up, about 1 minute. 
  3. Flip the pancake over and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a plate and cover with a kitchen towel. Continue with the rest of the batter until all the pancakes have been made. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Moo Shu Chicken

A hybrid of authentic Chinese and American Chinese food, moo shu chicken is a refreshing and delicious dish that’s better than the Chinese restaurant version. Tender juicy chicken, crisp napa cabbage, crunchy bamboo shoots, and wood ear mushrooms are quickly cooked in a savory and lightly sweet sauce. Serve either with moo shu wrappers or steamed rice and you’ll have a healthy and delicious meal.

Homemade moo shu chicken in a pan

In two previous posts, Moo Shu Pork and Moo Shu Vegetables, I mentioned that the moo shu we eat in China is very different from that found in the US. The ingredients are usually stir-fried with a light chicken broth based sauce and the dish is served with rice. The ingredients in the moo shu are different, too. You won’t see cabbage. Instead, the dish usually uses cucumbers, lily flowers, and wood ear mushrooms.

Having lived in the US for almost 5 years, I’ve started to enjoy American Chinese food more. I used to resist it when I saw dishes that were not “authentic” in my opinion. But now, I try to embrace them. Like the last time my husband ordered moo shu pork when we were eating out, I was surprised to find the dish very tasty, even though it was the Americanized version.

So today I want to share my version of Moo Shu Chicken – a mix of authentic Chinese taste and Americanized elements. The result is a pot of perfectly cooked tender chicken and crunchy veggies seasoned with a savory and lightly sweet sauce, with tons of aromatics.

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Tian Mian Jiang (Sweet Flour Sauce, 甜面酱)

Even though hoisin sauce is the more common sauce in the US, I decided to go with Tian Mian Jiang, or Sweet Flour Sauce. It is the official sauce that is used with Peking duck and pancakes, which inspired the American version of moo shu.

Tian Mian Jiang is a thick, opaque, reddish dark brown sauce that tastes salty, slightly sweet, and has a savory umami that is similar to that of fermented soybeans. The sauce is made primarily from fermented flour, along with salt. The sweet taste is from the glucose and maltose that are produced during the fermentation process, so the sauce is actually salty and only slightly sweet.

Tian Mian Jiang (Sweet Flour Sauce)

Compared to hoisin sauce, Tian Mian Jiang is more savory and less sweet, with very little added sugar, and makes your dish taste richer than simply sweet.

A fun fact: sometimes Chinese restaurants have hoisin sauce written on their menu, but they use Tian Mian Jiang in reality (which is lesser known). That’s why your homemade version might taste different.

Where to buy it

The best place to purchase Tian Mian Jiang is at Asian Markets. It’s usually on the room-temperature shelves that sell other sauces, near the soy sauce section. Sometimes it’s labeled as “Sweet Flour Sauce”, “Sweet Bean Sauce”, or “Sweet Sauce”.

You will come across two versions of Tian Mian Jiang – the Northern version (made primarily from flour) and the Southern version (made from soybeans). I love the Northern version, but the Southern version will work just as well.

If you cannot find Tian Mian Jiang, substitutions are provided in the recipe below.

Moo Shu Pancakes / Duck Pancakes

I previously published a family recipe for duck pancakes, which produce soft paper-thin pancakes like in the restaurant. You can also find them in the frozen section of an Asian market, usually labeled as moo shu wrappers or duck wrappers. They are already cooked, so you simply need to heat them through according to the instructions on the package.

If you cannot find the pancakes, flour tortillas are the next best option. Remember, the proper moo shu wrappers are paper-thin and have a different texture. Tortillas are much thicker and you will need to use more sauce when serving.

My choice of ingredients

I used napa cabbage instead of cabbage because it tastes great and has a better texture.

I added some rehydrated wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots for a couple of different crunchy textures. They are also common ingredients in restaurant-style moo shu chicken. You can skip the wood ear mushrooms if you don’t have them on hand, but I highly recommend them. You can purchase them at Asian markets or on Amazon.

How to cut the ingredients

To make it easy to wrap the finished moo shu chicken in the pancakes, it’s important to cut the ingredients into thin, even strips.

To cut the chicken breast:

  • Slice it against the grain into 1/5” (1/2 cm) thick pieces.
  • Flatten the chicken slices so they half overlap each other. (so you can cut them faster)
  • Further slice it into 1/5” (1/2 cm) thick strips.
How to slice chicken for stir fry
  • Slice the rest of the ingredients (except the napa cabbage) into strips.
  • Cut the napa cabbage into small squares.

Cooking process

Moo shu chicken requires a bit of prep work, but the actual cooking process is extremely easy. All you need to do is make sure not to overcook the ingredients, so the chicken remains tender and the veggies crisp.

  1. Saute the chicken. You will need to use two spatulas or a pair of chopsticks to separate the chicken pieces into a single layer so they cook evenly.
  2. Make sure to remove the chicken from the pan immediately once it’s cooked. It’s OK if some of the pieces have a hint of pink, because you will cook them further in a later step.
  3. Scramble the eggs then remove them from the pan once cooked.
  4. Lightly cook the onion.
  5. Quickly stir in the ginger.
  6. Add the rest of the veggies – wood ear mushrooms, cabbage, bamboo and shoots. Cook 2 to 3 minutes so they are just cooked but still crunchy.
  7. Add back the cooked chicken and egg.
  8. Add the sauce and give it a final stir.
Moo shu chicken cooking step-by-step

How to serve Moo Shu chicken

Once you’ve cooked the moo shu chicken, serve it with the steamed moo shu wrappers with extra sweet bean paste. If the sweet bean paste doesn’t taste sweet enough for you, you can mix some sugar or syrup into it. For me, it’s the perfect sweetness to serve with the moo shu chicken.

To make the wrap, I would carefully peel off one pancake, spread a thin layer of sweet bean sauce onto it, and add a heap of moo shu chicken on top. You’d be surprised how flavorful and fresh it tastes, using very simple and healthy ingredients.

I hope you enjoy it!

MOO SHU CHICKEN WITH LOW CARB PANCAKES

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 stir-fry with vegetables and sauce on a big white plate
Super tender chicken with bamboo shoots and crunchy vegetables, tossed in a sweet and savory homemade hoisin sauce.

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.

Ingredients prepared in advance to make mu shu chicken
Moo Shu Chicken Ingredients

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.

What is wood ear mushrooms and how to use them
Wood Ear Mushrooms after being soaked in water

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.

Stir fry mu shu in a big saute pan
A delicious one big pot stir-fry with loads of veggies!

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!

  1. Start with making a homemade hoisin sauce. This is used to go with the mandarin pancakes and as a stir-fry sauce, too!
  2. Slice the chicken breasts and add the seasonings.
  3. Set the cucumbers and carrots in one bowl. All the mushrooms in a second bowl. And the aromatics in a plate.
  4. 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.
  5. Serve the mu shu chicken with the pancakes and the hoisin sauce or enjoy the dish with rice!

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