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.
I’ve never had Moo Shu before in my life. Invariably, my order at a Chinese restaurant includes steamed dumplings and one of four items: fried rice, lo mein, sweet and sour anything, or General Tso’s chicken. When I first started putting this together, my simple mind thought, “Oh, it’s kind of like making a breakfast burrito!” In a lot of ways, the two are similar. Scrambled eggs with meat and vegetables rolled into a flour shell and topped with some sort of sauce. The description could cover both dishes. After I tried the Moo Shu, however, I realized how much more sophisticated the flavors are. The biggest issue I had with the entire dish was in making those darned pancakes. I did not realize that rolling them out would take so long. They were well worth the effort, but I surely would have started up much earlier had I known how time intensive they were. On that note, here is a picture of the results (sorry, no process pictures…we were pressed for time this month!) and the recipes that we used to create them. My notes on the recipes are in italics.
These pancakes took seemingly forever to roll thin enough and cook. My arms were hurting by the end of it! Still, they were extraordinarily fresh and you could taste the difference that a little time and effort made. Definitely give them a shot!
Makes 24-30 pancakes
Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes’ standing time
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
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
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water, stirring as you pour, then stir in the oil. 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 a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.
Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or 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 a lightly damp dish cloth 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 dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.
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
I used plain white, pre-sliced button mushrooms, the sliced bamboo shoots right out of the can, and a couple of pork chops that we had in the freezer. I was going for easy that night. I couldn’t believe how fast the eggs scrambled! I think that might be my new method here in the mornings.
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking time: 6-8 minutes
2/3 cup (1 oz) (30 gm) Dried black fungus (‘wood ears’)
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) oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep to one side.
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: place about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of hot Moo Shu in the center of a warm pancake, rolling it into a parcel with the bottom end turned up to prevent the contents from falling out. Eat with your fingers.
I put all of these ingredients into a Mason jar and just shook them until they all came together. A great job for the kids!!
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
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)
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) black pepper
Simply mix all of the ingredients together by hand using a sturdy spoon. (At first it does not appear like it will mix, but keep at it just a bit longer and your sauce will come together.)
Thanks Shelley and Ruth for a great challenge!