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 was already planning on making this dish, so when I saw that it was the Daring Cooks Challenge for this month, I thought to myself: “I think they’re reading my mind…” Well, probably just a happy coincidence, but still…
Moo Shu is a dish that I had on a pretty regular basis while growing up. I guess that’s what happens when your family owns a Chinese restaurant.
Like most Chinese restaurants, my family did not make their own Moo Shu pancakes in house. The pancakes were purchased frozen, pre-made and then steamed before being served with the moo shu filling. When I found out that this challenge included the whole make-the-pancakes-yourself thing. The thought that instantly crossed my mind was, “oh, sh!t.”
Turns out, making the pancakes wasn’t as bad as I was building it up to be in my mind. The method of making the pancake dough reminded me of the dough for Chinese scallion pancakes, minus the yeast. The pancakes turned out quite yummy, but a bit thick for my taste. I guess I should work on rolling the pancakes out thinner. But honestly, the next time I make Moo Shu, I will be running to the store to get the premade pancakes.
This challenge also called for a more traditional sauce to be served with the Moo Shu, a hoisin sauce. Although a hoisin sauce is probably the more traditional choice, I will say that I still prefer the plum sauce that is typically served with Moo Shu at most Chinese restaurants.
The challenge recipe provided for the Moo Shu filling is adapted from The Chinese Kitchen by Deh-Ta Hsiung. The pancake recipe comes from the same source. The sauce recipe is adapted from epicurian.com
1 block extra firm tofu, cut into matchstick size pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Place the tofu pieces into a tupperware container or bowl. In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the other ingredients and mix to combine well. Spoon the marinade over the tofu to cover all pieces. Cover the tofu container and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight.
Thin Pancakes (makes 12-14 pancakes)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
More 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 2 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 4 to 5 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 ungreased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and lace 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 Tofu (serves 2)
1/3 cup Dried black fungus (‘wood ears’)
14 oz marinated tofu slices
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, thinly cut
1 1/2 cups Napa cabbage, thinly cut
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
2 tablespoons (60 ml) vegetable oil
1 scallion, cut into 1 inch long pieces
1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoons rice wine
A few drops sesame oil
8 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 bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick sized shreds.
Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Heat about 1/2 tablespoon 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 tofu for about 2 minutes or until the tofu becomes a golden brown color. Add the fungus, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and scallions. Stir fry for about 2 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 like a little burrito.
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons black bean paste
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
Black pepper, to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.