One of my favorite side dishes to order when I go to Panda Express is their Mushroom Chicken. It comes with zucchini, mushrooms, chicken and is glazed in a super delicious sauce! I usually have mushrooms and zucchini in my fridge, especially this summer after growing zucchini, so I decided to try and make a copycat version of my favorite side dish.
It turned out to be way better than I expected and really did taste like a homemade version of the Panda Express dish! Also, I may or may not be working on a post for the copycat version of Chow Mein from Panda Express, so stay tuned for that later in the next week or two.
To start, chop up some chicken. You can use chicken breast or thighs, either way just chop the meat into bite sized pieces. Then toss the chicken with cornstarch.
Why? I’m glad you asked, because I wondered too!
Cornstarch is used for a few different reasons, it helps brown the chicken on the outside while keeping it moist inside and it helps to thicken up your sauce. Keep in mind the chicken doesn’t need to be drenched in cornstarch, just lightly coated, it only takes about a tablespoon of cornstarch for a cup of chopped chicken.
Once the chicken is lightly coated, tap off any excess cornstarch and heat up a skillet with a little bit of canola or olive oil. If you have sesame seed oil, add in two drops to give the chicken some extra flavor. The oil needs to be super hot and then toss in the chicken. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken and toss it around in the skillet to make sure it all gets browned. It doesn’t need to be in the skillet longer than just browning, since the chicken is chopped into small pieces it won’t take long to cook through. Once it’s browned remove it and set aside, don’t worry we’ll finish cooking it in a few more steps.
Using the same skillet, heat a little more oil and get the pan really hot and then toss in the zucchini and mushrooms. And if you’d like you can add the zucchini first since they take a little longer to cook than mushrooms.
They need to cook around for just 2-3 minutes and then add in all the sauce.
To make the sauce, mix together the minced garlic, ground ginger (or fresh), soy sauce and some balsamic vinegar and pour that into the skillet. Add the chicken back in at this point so that it can get completely coated. This is where I messed up, I should’ve added the chicken in earlier because what happened is that my veggies got more coated in sauce than my meat did. So add in the chicken when you add in the sauce. Or you could even let your chicken sit in the sauce while the veggies cook and then pour it in all together.
Let this cook around for another 2 minutes or so – just until the sauce thickens up slightly. Also feel free to make a little more sauce so there is extra to spoon over the rice. In the recipe below I doubled the sauce amount because I really do think it needs it.
Serve immediately with a large scoop of rice! I was so focused on making this chicken dish that I forgot to make the rice to go along with it, so by the time it was done cooking I decided to forgo the rice this time. But I highly recommend the rice!
I understand this looks a little bland, but have you seen the dish from Panda? It doesn’t look glamorous either so trust me on this!
It’s delicious and we ate it up real fast! This dish cooks up quickly which makes it a perfect weekday meal. I also love the sauce because it’s a great all purpose Asian sauce for any dish. Next time you’re craving a little Panda Express, know that you can make it right at home with your own fresh ingredients! Enjoy!
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken
- 2 T cornstarch
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms
- 3-4 small zucchini, or 1-2 large, chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 1 t sesame seed oil, optional
- 4 T Soy Sauce
- 2 T Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 t ground ginger
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss with the cornstarch. Lightly coat the chicken and shake off any excess.
- Heat oil and sesame oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat until hot. Dump in chicken and toss around until browned. Remove.
- Heat up a little more oil in skillet and toss in zucchini and mushrooms. Cook around for just a minute or two.
- Mix together the sauce and pour half in with the veggies and add in the chicken.
- Toss to coat and let cook for a minute or two or until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through.
- Pour over cooked rice and enjoy!