It's possible we've had Moo Shu somewhere sometime without knowing it, but we certainly haven't made any for ourselves - although we've made pork stir fry type things (but not the pancakes) that sort of fall into the ball park of what was called for this month.
Schedule wise it fit into a moderately lazy weekend evening, which was nice. And we were pretty certain we could round up all the ingredients at any one of a couple of our local stores. As it turned out we couldn't find one ingredient, but fortunately there was an option provided so we opted out of the panic drive to somewhere not so handy.
Let the record show that we did not reach for the jar we have tucked away in the fridge!
Let the record show that it's a very straightforward recipe to understand and execute. Everyone in the pool, mix.
The instructions are right, it does look like it's not going to work for a good while, but eventually comes together looking mostly like what we thought we would get.
This is where our missing ingredient came into play. We really wanted to do the Bean Paste rather than Peanut Butter as it's something that has never made it passed our front door before, but alas we couldn't locate it in the two stores we tried. We opted for the Peanut Butter and although happy with what we got we're curious as to how it would have differed given a more successful shopping trek.
Let the record show that we did reach for the jar tucked in the fridge - for comparison purposes only!
Pretty close! Ours was:
- much thinner, but actually thickened up just a little by the time we got to dine on it and quite a bit overnight when we accidentally left it out.
- a bit lighter in color, and didn't change after being left out...
- less sweet
- more nutty (damn you failed shopping trek!)
We liked dipping into it. We're going with success.
Seems easy enough - kinda like bread, kinda like pizza dough, kinda like pancakes. We can do them all. Also, kinda hot, so be careful when you do the adding water part!
We needed more water (of the boiling variety) than advertised, probably closer to two cups when all was said and done. After that it kneaded up nicely and was quite happy to sit in the bowl while we started on the chopping for the Pork part of the adventure.
The dividing up in similar sized balls is a clever procedure - cut in 3, roll in to a 'snake', cut in half a few times to get 8 very similarly sized ball type shapes.
Turn them into better looking balls, smush a bit on the counter and roll out pretty thin. Not hard work, but not quick work!
Throw them at a pan (not too hot, not too cold) - we used our skillet and were able to have two going at once. We thought we had the temperature pretty much right, but based on the final texture we probably couldn't dispute it was a little warm.
Lots of laundry. We had things covered with wet dish towels all over the place...
Did look a bit like the pictures, but we don't think they were as floppy. They did fold up okish around the goodies, but there was cracking towards the edges.
Wouldn't serve them for breakfast ;p, but worked out pretty good as the food delivery device (we're probably (mis?)quoting Alton there...). But, not a lot of motivation to go through the process again...
Moo Shu Pork
We figured the pork as the star, so it wouldn't be such a big drama if we selected a different type of mushroom - especially since we'd never even heard of dried wood ears let alone seen them in any store we've ever visited. We did stay with dried and found a 1oz pack of mixed dried wild mushrooms - wild / wood, close enough, right? Even if someone can declare categorically that the wood ears bring something extra special to the party, we're ok with what we chose and therefore ended up with.
Apart from that, nothing else to cause consternation over as we rounded up the ingredients. Nothing too complicated about cutting everything up, but we think the 'matchstick-sized threads' was not the best analogy to use. If we lined everything up in order of closeness to matchstick-sized threads we'd start with pretty close, and end up small, but no matchstick - that would be bamboo shoots, cabbage, pork...
Cook the eggs first, cook up everything else, add most of the sauce, re-add the eggs, add everything else, stirring all the while. We don't have a wok (we felt a wok would have given the best authentic results...), but a wok like pan so this went quickly and easily. The cabbage cooks down a lot so the overflowing pan quickly becomes 'do we have enough food?' The smells hit the kitchen but it's over quite quickly so no house enveloping aromas.
Tasty! Looked exactly like the picture. We've cooked up similar looking things and served them over rice and we have no doubt this would have worked out fine that way too had our pancakes totally failed - they didn't.
The Coming Together...
We took everything over to the couch, got TiVo wound up, cracked open our wine, and began the customized, individualized construction. It was easy, but would have been a little bit easier if our pancakes were a little bit floppier.
- Select the best looking pancake.
- Select a good smear of Hoison and place it through the middle of the pancake.
- Select a good scoop of Moo Shu and place over Hoison
- Attempt to fold per instructions.
- Remove some Moo Shu thinking the volume is the problem.
- Attempt to fold per instructions.
- Return previously removed Moo Shu now knowing the folding is operator error (and a little not floppy enough pancakes).
- Fold more like a taco than per instructions.
- Smile and ooh and ahh because it's really tasty.
- Go back to 1, but skip 4-7 each subsequent time through.
Recipes & Destructions Instructions
A fun evening's work. It took about the same amount of time as suggested in the recipe so we ate at a sensible time - that hasn't always been the case with our challenges. It was tasty and filling and generated just the right amount of food so as not to have left overs nor lead us toward over indulging.
We opened up a bottle of something something (2009 Château Michel de Vert Lussac Saint-Emilion) with the very scientific reasoning that nothing we had left in the cellar vaguely suggested Moo Shu, we had a slight hankering for something red, our tasting notes suggested pork as a match, and we were thirsty. It's a nice balanced wine which worked out just fine with this dish, but we could see it working with just about anything the Daring Kitchen threw our way.
We're ok eating things with our fingers, so don't mind getting a few drips of something over our hands - we definitely got a few drops, but nothing to run screaming to a sink over. We accept that folding per instructions would have minimized, if not eliminated, the amount of dripping - oh well.
This was not too hard too make, not too hard eat and definitely was an enjoyable meal to be filled up with!
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.
Comments pre Blog Platform ChangeShelley C responded:
Woo hoo! Seriously love reading your guys' write ups, and reading this one made me smile - it sounds like everything went really, really well, and I am so glad that you guys enjoyed it! If you have a hankering, I'd recommend giving one of the other pancake rolling methods a whirl, but seriously, awesome, awesome job. I definitely find Moo-Shu-ing to be a fun, social dinner type thing, not just regular meal prep, and it sounds like it was very fun for you guys. Thanks so much for cooking with us!!
Sawsan@chef in disguise responded:
I love reading your posts and this one was no exception :)
Glad you enjoyed the challenge and it was a success by most counts