The chicken version of a pork dish that originated in northern China. Curiously, the moo shu pork that has been popularized outside China does not really resemble its Chinese ancestor except, perhaps, for the pork, cucumber and egg combo. This chicken version very much resembles the moo shu pork that we are familiar with.
When we cook chicken fillets at home, the default is thigh meat. Skin-on, if we can manage to source them. But I had trimmings from little drumsticks attached to chicken wings. Those trimmings were part of the breast so, yes, breast meat was used in this recipe. I took extra care not to overcook the chicken because breast meat is lean and, when cooked for too long, it turns dry with the texture of… well, shredded cardboard is the best description I can manage.
The chicken meat has to be cut into small pieces — small enough so that they cook in a short time. But while cooking time is short, I don’t recommend taking shortcuts with marinating. Despite the small pieces of chicken, they still need time to soak up the flavors of the marinade. Not overnight. Half an hour should do. Just long enough to cook rice and prep the rest of the ingredients.
I like to salt the cucumber slices to draw out excess water. That makes them more appropriate for stir frying.
While the salt is doing its work on the cucumber, wood ears are rehydrated in hot water. Or you may do this ahead of salting the cucumber since it takes longer to rehydrate wood ears than to dehydrate cucumbers. For more about wood ears (and black fungus), see the linked post below.
The first component of the dish to go into the pan is the eggs. Mix them with a little soy sauce for flavor and color. Heat sesame seed oil in a pan, pour in the seasoned eggs and cook, stirring, to form bite-sized lumps. Scoop out the eggs.
Heat more sesame seed oil and spread the marinated chicken in the pan. Leave to allow the undersides to brown then flip them over.
Add chopped garlic and the wood ears, stir fry for a minute then toss in the cucumber slices.
Add the eggs back to the pan, sprinkle in scallions and stir fry to distribute the eggs. Now pour in the sauce and cook, stirring a few times, just until the cloudy liquid thickens and clears.
How do you serve moo shu chicken? We like it with rice.
I ladle rice into bowls, pile on the moo shu chicken, drizzle in some of the sauce and sprinkle in more scallions before serving.
Moo shu chicken
- 400 grams chicken fillets thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 one-inch piece ginger peeled and grated
- light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- sesame seed oil
- 1 ¼ cup dried wood ears soaked in hot water for 30 minutes (1 ¼ cups is the measurement after soaking) and trimmed
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ tablespoons oyster sauce
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup chicken bone broth
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions plus more to garnish
- Place the chicken strips in a bowl. Add the grated ginger, two tablespoons of soy sauce, a generous drizzle of rice wine, a tablespoon and a half of starch and a drizzle of sesame seed oil. Mix well. Set aside and allow to marinate. Use this time to cook rice.
- Drain the wood ears and cut into one-inch slices.
- Cut the cucumbers vertically into halves. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut into slices about a quarter of an inch thick. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and toss.
- Crush, peel and mince the garlic.
- In a small bowl, make the sauce by mixing together the oyster sauce, sugar, chicken broth, the remaining starch and tablespoon and a half of light soy sauce.
- Heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Drizzle in a little soy sauce over the beaten eggs and whisk. Pour into the hot oil. When partially set, stir around to break into rather large lumps. Scoop out and transfer to a plate.
- Pour two tablespoons of sesame oil into the pan. When starting to smoke, spread the marinated chicken in a single layer. Do not move them for a minute or so until the undersides are browned. Flip over and lightly brown the opposite side.
- Add the garlic and wood ears to the chicken. Stir fry for a minute.
- Squeeze the cucumber slices to remove excess liquid, add to the chicken and toss.
- Add the eggs and scallions, and toss.
- Pour in the sauce and cook, stirring a few times, until the liquid is thick and no longer cloudy.
- Ladle rice into bowls, top with moo shu chicken and more scallions.
- Serve the moo shu chicken rice bowls at once.