The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce. When I saw this I was a bit worried… I had never even heard of Moo Shu before!!! But then I read on and thought it was a challenge worth taking! Here is how our hosts describe Moo Shu: “Simply put, Moo Shu is a stir fry, containing thinly sliced or shredded vegetables, meat (traditionally) and scrambled egg. It is usually served on flat, thin, steamed pancakes, and is accompanied by a complementary sauce”. Sounds yummy, right? When I read more about the history of this dish I was totally sold… it is really fascinating. So much so that I thought I would quote some of it from the Daring Cooks’ site: “Moo Shu pork (the protein most commonly used in Moo Shu dishes) originates in Northern China (commonly attributed to the Shandong province, though sometimes attributed to Beijing), rising in popularity in Chinese restaurants in the West in the 1960’s and 70’s. As the dish became more popular, different restaurants adapted the recipe to meet their own styles, or to accommodate for expensive or hard-to find ingredients, so there is a lot of variation among recipes. Common among them, though, is a basis of cabbage and the inclusion of scrambled eggs. […] The history and etymology of the dish are widely disputed […]. Many […] suggest that the Chinese characters, read as mu xi, refer to a tree that blooms with small, fragrant blossoms. They suggest that the scrambled egg in this dish is reminiscent of these blossoms, and thus a variety of egg dishes are referred to as mu xi. An alternative suggestion uses the Chinese characters reading mu xu, roughly translating to wood whiskers or wood shavings. The dish is thus named, it is said, due to the appearance of the shredded vegetables and meat, resembling wooden whiskers, or wooden shavings that were used as packing materials”. How cool is that??
Having never eaten it before, I decided to pretty much stick to the recipe and made only minor variations (marked in red). Probably the only thing I would change next time is the Hoisin sauce. I did not have any black bean paste, so I used peanut butter as suggested and found the final result tasted too much like peanut butter and was not very similar to the store bought Hoisin sauce I had in my pantry. It was still good, just not the same.
So… here you have it… MsM’s Moo Shu with steamed pancakes and home-made hoisin sauce. Enjoy!
Recipes adapted from the Daring Cooks
4 tablespoons (60 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) peanut butter OR black bean paste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey OR molasses
2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) garlic powder – I used 1 teaspoon to get closer in taste to my pantry Hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons (10 ml) sesame seed oil
20 drops (¼ teaspoon) Chinese style hot sauce (optional, depending on how hot you want your Hoisin sauce) – I substituted this with ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) black pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together by hand using a spoon.
Ingredients (makes 24-30 pancakes):
4 cups (960 ml) (560 gm) (19¾ oz) all purpose flour
About 1½ cup (300ml) (10 fl oz) boiling water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil
Dry flour for dusting
Sesame oil – to lightly brush the pancakes (optional – I did not use it)
Sift the flour into the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. Gently pour in the boiling water, and oil and knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough.
If your dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with cling wrap and rest for about 30 minutes.
Lightly dust the surface of a benchtop with flour. Knead the dough until smooth, then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces.
Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with cling wrap to keep it from drying out.
Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin.
Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan.
Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.
Moo Shu Pork
Ingredients: (for 4 persons)
2/3 cup (1 oz) (30 gm) Dried black fungus (‘wood ears’) – I used dried Shiitake mushrooms
½ lb (450 gm) pork loin or butt
¾ cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) bamboo shoots, thinly cut
3 cups (6 oz) (170 gm) Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) light soy sauce
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rice wine
A few drops sesame oil
12 thin pancakes to serve
Soak the fungus in warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse and drain. Discard any hard stalks, then thinly shred.
Thinly cut the pork, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds.
Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Heat about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep aside.
Heat the remaining oil. Stir-fry the shredded pork for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the fungus, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and scallions. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining salt, soy sauce and wine. Blend well and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add the scrambled eggs, stirring to break them into small bits. Add the sesame oil and blend well.
To serve: spread a small amount of hoisin sauce onto a warm pancake, put 1 or 2 tablespoons of hot Moo Shu on the top and roll the pancake into a parcel with the bottom end turned up to prevent the contents from falling out (like a soft taco).
Eat immediately with your fingers.
To see all my fellow Daring Cooks post… click here!