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Monday, November 2, 2009

Moo Shu Pork

I really love this dish. One of the things I've found about figuring out how to make my favorite ethnic dishes at home is that when I go out to eat I can now broaden my horizons instead of feeling compelled to order the same thing time after time. Now I can make my favorites at home and fulfill that craving before I go out. Since I learned how to make chicken tikka masala at home, for instance, I have since learned that I also enjoy vindaloo and dal, among others.

Moo shu pork is one of those classic Chinese dishes that I always figured was too complex to make at home, but as we saw yesterday, those little pancakes are not nearly as hard to make as one might think! The filling is actually quite simple and straight-forward. While I initially made this dish using a recipe out of a magazine, I was so disappointed in the flavor that I decide to start over from scratch. The resulting sauce was the right mix to get the taste I wanted... and there are only five ingredients! Multiply the ingredient amounts by whatever amount you want. The amounts listed below should cover enough vegetables to easily serve 3-4 people. The sauce goes much farther than you might think and I've found that you really don't want too much sauce in this dish. The last consideration is to be sure not to overcook the vegetables, which can happen fairly quickly. You still want the cabbage to have some bite to it.

Speaking of cabbage... so I sliced up a bunch of cabbage and grated a bunch of carrot to make the majority of my vegetable mix. I also sliced up some onion fairly thinly, sliced green onions, and some mushrooms. In this first attempt, you can see that I was using plain old mushrooms. They worked out fairly well, but later I realized I had a more traditional ingredient in my pantry and went with it instead.

Here is that more traditional ingredient. Again, regular mushrooms work just fine... or you could leave them out entirely. The filling ingredients are really flexible - use what appeals to you! (In fact, you can easily make this a vegetarian meal by leaving out the pork.) These dried black fungus strips, though are a cinch to use. I placed small handful in a bowl of warm water for about ten minutes to rehydrate them. Then I rinsed them well under running water in a small colander. They were then ready to use.

Along with the vegetables is a decent quantity of minced garlic and ginger. Yum!

You may not think so, since I forgot to take a picture of it, but the eggs are a very important part of this dish. Get your pan nice and warm, add a little oil or butter, and gently scramble the eggs. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat in your pan up to high, add a small amount of oil and cook the pork strips until just done. Remove them from the pan and set aside with the eggs. Let the pan heat back up and saute the vegetables in a little bit more oil. Make sure the pan is hot before adding the vegetables. Remember, over-cooking is to be avoided here at all costs! Stir regularly to cook the vegetables evenly. When the vegetables have little bit of color and are just slightly tender, turn off the heat and add the sauce. Stir to distribute the sauce and then add the egg. Lightly toss and then serve wrapped up in Chinese Pancakes. I like to use a little plum sauce with mine.

To wrap them up, place a small pile of filling in the middle of the pancake. Be careful not to use too much filling or you will never be able to wrap it up neatly.

Wrap like you might wrap a burrito. Fold one side over and then wrap the ends in. Lastly, roll over to close. Serve immediately.

Moo Shu Pork
Yield: filling for 8-12 pancakes

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4-8 ounces thinly sliced pork tenderloin

4-6 cups of shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup finely sliced onion
1/2 cup sliced green onion (green parts, too)
1/4 cup dried black fungus strips, soaked and rinsed
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger

1 TBS Hoisin sauce
1 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine (not vinegar)
1 tsp brown sugar
2-3 drops toasted sesame oil

Shred the vegetables but try to keep them from getting too fine. Toss the vegetables together to evenly distribute the ingredients. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl or cup; set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a little bit of oil. Cook the eggs until they are gently scrambled. Remove from the pan and set aside. Turn up the heat to high, add a little more oil - if needed - and cook cook the pork just until it's done. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add another dollop of oil and let the pan heat back up. When the pan is nice and hot, add the vegetables and stir regularly to help them cook evenly. When the vegetables are just slightly browned and slightly softened, remove them from the heat and add the sauce. Toss to coat and then add the egg and pork. Gently stir to mix. Serve wrapped in Chinese Pancakes with plum sauce, if desired.

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