“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.”
Thank you Shelley and Ruth for giving us such a great challenge. I must admit I am not a stranger to Moo Shu pork, it is something I have made before. We eat a fair bit of Asian food in our household, I enjoy the flavours and find it quick and satisfying on a weeknight. Sure there are many dishes from around Asia that require hours of preparation, and I enjoy making those too, but nothing beats a stir fry or noodles mid week.
Moo shu pork (moo shi/mu shu or mu xu pork) originates from Northern China, possibly originally from Shandong. It is served with warm moo shu pancakes (mandarin pancakes) similar to what is served with Peking Duck. Actually the recipe that was provided is nearly the same as the one I use to make my pancakes to accompany Peking Duck. Sauce is also served, usually hoisin sauce.
I decided to attempt this challenge on a week night after work. Yes, there is nothing like a challenge on a busy week night, especially when you are making pancakes from scratch! Surprisingly it didn’t take as long as I thought and dinner wasn’t too late.
Moo Shu Pancakes
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon 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.
Working two pieces of dough at a time, roll each piece into a three inch pancake. Using a pastry brush, brush sesame oil onto the top of one of the pancakes, and top it with the other pancake. Further roll the doubled pancake into a 6 to 8 inch circle.
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. Just be careful separating the pancakes after cooking them on both sides –heat (steam) does get caught between them, so don't burn your fingers! Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.
Moo Shu Pork
- 2/3 cup Dried black fungus ('wood ears')
- 450 grams pork loin or butt
- ¾ cup bamboo shoots, thinly cut
- 3 cups Chinese cabbage (wombok), thinly cut
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 scallions
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons 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 colour 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 centre 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 made two versions of hoisin sauce to accompany our pancakes. The Challenge recipe below and my own that I tend to make to go with a variety of things.
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter OR black bean paste
- 1 tablespoon honey OR molasses
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
- 20 drops Chinese style hot sauce (optional, depending on how hot you want your hoisin sauce)
- 1/8 teaspoon 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.
My Hoisin Sauce
- 4 Tablespoons hoisin
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
Mix all of the above together in a small sauce pan and heat through. I sometimes add a splash of water if needed to make it slightly runnier.
Josh actually preferred the challenge recipe with the moo shu. I liked mine as it is slightly thicker and didn’t drip out of the pancakes. Both were great sauces to accompany and I am glad I made the challenge one.
Serve pork, pancakes and sauce separately and let your diners assemble the pancakes themselves. Spread some sauce on to a pancake and then top with the pork mixture, roll and eat.