Moo shu has long been one of my favorite dishes to order in a Chinese restaurant. While it is traditionally made with pork, most restaurants do a chicken or vegetarian version as well. It’s great to order as an appetizer–everyone at the table participates in the ritual of spreading sauce and wrapping up their own pancakes. Ah, the sauce. Can’t have moo shu without it. Hoisin or plum sauce is traditional and these you can buy in any Asian market. Trouble is, sugar is the first ingredient in most of these sauces and caramel coloring is likely to be second. I’ve solved that problem with a recipe for a much more delicious sauce you can quickly make at home. You might need to make a shopping trip to your local Asian market, but you probably wanted to do that anyway! So, get out your wok–it’s the only cookware you’ll need. And 新年快樂 (which I think means “happy new year” in Mandarin). Recipes after the jump…
VEGETABLE MOO SHU
Make the plum sauce first (see recipe below). If you can’t find umeboshi paste, buy umeboshi plums and mash them up. If you can’t find either, a prepared hoisin or plum sauce may have to do. I’ve tried several kinds of wrapper skins that you find frozen in Asian stores and to my taste, they are too delicate for moo shu. I’ve concluded that small flour tortillas, while they’re too thick to be ideal, are a better choice (warm them before serving). Let me know if you do find the ideal moo shu pancake!
Makes enough filling for 8-10 pancakes.
1/2 ounce dried wood ear mushroom strips soaked in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes, then drained
5-6 ounces fried tofu (age tofu), sliced in half horizontally
3-4 large shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (stems removed)
1/2 onion, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 medium carrot, julienned
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of a small cabbage (about 8 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch strips
3-4 ounces bean sprouts
2-3 green onions, sliced lengthwise
sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, mirin, black pepper
Have ready a slurry made with 2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water.
8-10 small flour tortillas, warmed
1. Heat a medium-sized wok. Make a broth with 1/2 cup water with 1 tablespoon each of mirin and soy sauce. Simmer the fried tofu slices in this broth 2-3 minutes on each side, then pour contents of the wok onto a plate and set aside. When the tofu has cooled, cut into thin slices. Clean and reheat the wok.
2. When the wok is hot, add a tablespoon or so of sesame oil. Toss in the shiitake mushrooms and a little sprinkle of salt and stir fry 2-3 minutes. Add the onions and stir fry 2 minutes more.
3. Add ginger, garlic, wood ears, tofu and carrots and stir fry 1-2 minutes, then add cabbage and another sprinkle of salt , cover and let steam a minute or two.
4. Uncover, add 2-3 tablespoons water, 1-2 tablespoons mirin, a teaspoon of soy sauce (or to taste), a few cracks of black pepper, add the bean sprouts, stir fry a minute and taste the liquid on the bottom of the wok and add seasoning as needed. Add a couple of tablespoons of the slurry and continue cooking a minute more. Add more of the slurry if there is still liquid which needs to be thickened. Turn off heat and stir in the green onions.
5. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas and have the plum sauce ready.
To eat: spread plum sauce down the middle of a tortilla, spoon in a generous quantity of the moo shu filling, fold over, enjoy!
1 tablespoon umeboshi paste
1 tablespoon warm water
3 tablespoons barley malt syrup
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard (or to taste)
In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients