Mooshu Vegetables (or Pork or Beef or Chicken or Shrimp or…)

“Mooshu” will never be the same after Disney’s character (voiced by the hilarious Eddie Murphy) in Mulan, but Mooshu (also spelled moo shu, moo shi, or mu xu in Mandarin) is probably found in most Chinese restaurants in America. Its name appears to come from the dish’s appearance: the ingredients are basically cut into such small strips that they resemble wood shavings. Traditionally the ingredients include some sort of protein (meat, chicken, shrimp, tofu) plus wood ear, lily flower buds, bamboo shoots, and scrambled eggs. After being stirfried, the mixture is wrapped in a Mandarin pancake with a dab of hoisin or plum sauce and becomes a Chinese wrap of sorts.

You can substitute ingredients based on what’s at hand – the following is simply a suggestion to get you started. I avoid canned food such as bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and tend toward the fresh ingredients. The more exotic vegetables (wood ear, lily flowers) are available in Asian markets, but the recipe works fine without them. We don’t use too much processed/prepared food (in prepared sauces from China you run the risk of ingesting way too much msg and sodium) but I do like to add a bit of fermented black beans to this – you can then omit the hoisin or plum sauce as you will have enough flavor. If you don’t have the black beans, it will still be fine, with or without the added sauce.

ingredients:

  • your choice of protein (optional), approximately 8 oz, shredded:

pressed or baked tofu
shrimp (check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch for a list of the most sustainable varieties)
pork, beef, or chicken (visit Local Harvest for sustainably raised products available near you)

  • marinade

for beef/pork: 2 tsp soy sauce + 1 tsp cornstarch
for chicken/shrimp: 1/2 egg white, beaten + 1 tsp cornstarch
for tofu: none

  • your choice of vegetables, enough to make approximately 2 c, shredded:

carrot
celery
bean sprouts
cabbage
shiitake mushrooms, fresh or dried (rehydrate 20 m): stems reserved for making broth, soaking liquid reserved for another use
wood ear: rehydrate 30 m, rinse well, remove tough parts
lily flowers (golden needles): rehydrate 30 m, snip off the tough ends
bamboo shoots
water chestnuts

sauce:

  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fermented black beans, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

method:

  1. Finely shred (1/16 x 1/16 x 1″) all ingredients.
  2. Combine the protein (if you’re adding some) with the appropriate marinade and allow to rest for up to 30 m.
  3. Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 T oil in a skillet or omelet pan, then add the beaten eggs. You can either scramble them or allow them to cook over low heat into a thin omelet, which you can turn out and also cut into fine shreds.
  5. Heat 1 T oil in a wok over high heat until it shimmers, explode the scallions until fragrant, add the vegetables, and stirfry quickly until crisp-tender. If your wok is small, you may want to do this in 2 batches, or the vegetables will crowd the pan and steam instead of stirfry. Remove.
  6. Heat 1 T oil in the wok over high heat until it shimmers, then add the protein (if applicable), stirfrying until the meat loses its pink color, approximately 1-2 m.
  7. Add the vegetables back to the wok, add the sauce, stirfry quickly to combine, another 1 m or so.
  8. Adjust seasoning and remove to a serving bowl, serve with the pancakes on the side.
  9. You can let your diners wrap their own “Chinese burritos” or you can make them yourself just before serving: place a pancake flat on a plate; using a slotted spoon, add approximately 1/4 c of the vegetable mixture down the middle of the pancake in a long mound, leaving 1″ between the end of the mound and the rim of the pancake. Fold up the rim where the space remains, fold over 1 side of the pancake perpendicular to the first fold, then roll tightly toward the opposite side. If you prefer to use chopsticks, be sure to roll tightly, then slice the wrap on the diagonal with a sharp knife.
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