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Moo Shu Pork - my favorite Chinese (American!) dish

Recently, I came to the realization that I seem to (sub-consciously) always order this dish when I go to a Chinese restaurant that I have never been to before. I guess it would make it my "measure of a restaurant" dish.

For a simple, straight-forward preparation, I have encountered some variables.

>Ingredients<
- May vary - but in a deconstruction - its base should always yield: egg, cabbage, green onion, black ear fungus and of course pork. Have you seen anything else added to this base? To detriment? I have seen bean sprouts, celery, bamboo shoot, and even straight onion.

>Pancakes<
- 2 schools:
(1) "Lets just use some flour tortillas." Which is ok by me as long as they are heated, reasonably thin, and tasty.
(2) "Extra Mile." Traditional Madarin pancakes - very thin, and brittle. Either frozen pre-made, or the best - made by the restaurant.
(Aside) Why does it always seem like pulling nails when you try to get extra pancakes?

>Sauce & Accompniments<
- Hoisin
- Plum
I have always have had served alongside. Can anyone deconstruct the differences between the two. So far what I know is:
Hoisin is considered chinese bbq sauce: its sweet, salty, syrupy and has an element of soy and star anise.
Plum is a sauce with a base of dried plums?
Please correct me.

- Raw green onion
Only served to me once on the side.

>Question<
Should the Moo Shu mixture be fried sans any soy element or with a slight saucing?

What/why (is it)/where is your favorite Moo shu?

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  1. If you like moo shu pork, you should try the beef version they serve at some Islamic Chinese restaurants. It comes with a large, pancake-like omelet draped on top, which lends an interesting texture and flavor element.

    1. Pancakes:

      I hope no restaurant is giving you flour tortillas. I use them at home, with cooked chichen and some scallion, for a quick meal, but never at a restaurant. Mandarin Pancakes, yes, and/or the type of buns I've seen recently at some new "we're really authentic" restaurants, which are steamed bready circles about 1/2" thick, maybe 3" across, partially split like a hamburger roll. These get served with peking duck and a wonderful dish of (one order for a whole table of very thin people) fatty pork belly.

      Raw green onion - Gotta have it. What restaurants you been goin' to, that serve tortillas and don't supply julienned scallion? Never go there again!

      Fried without sauce? Well, the meat should be marinated and drained, the cook might add a few drops of seasoning during cooking, but when it's done the ingredients seem to always release so much liquid that the pancakes get soaked through. But a bit of flavor is needed - ideally, the marinated meat gets cooked over high heat, and sauce gets reduced completely, and the vegetables get cooked very briefly and pick up any flavor remaining in the wok.

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. Im chinese but I got no clue what moo shu is and I was born and raised in the states lol. I have never eaten at a americanized chinese resturant. The thing I do know about moo shu is they use plum sauce, hoisin is just too strong.

          2 Replies
          1. re: x524x

            I have never seen plum sauce with my moo shu, only hoisin

            1. re: MVNYC

              i got plum served to me last week.

          2. Actually I don't think moo shu pork is an American-Chinese dish, as I remembered my Mom making it when I was small and she cooks traditional dishes.

            I think she also used bamboo shoots, and sliced shitake mushrooms. Sauce is always hoisin. Never raw green onions, and the moo shu is stirred fried with soy.

            I hardly ever order moo shu pork in restaurants. Could have sweared that I saw the mandarin style pancakes even at Chinese grocery stores, so I don't know why the restaurant will give you tortillas.

            2 Replies
            1. re: notmartha

              In China, is this a regional dish? The pancakes are wheat based, and used with Beijing Duck. Are there any other dishes that use these?

              I vaguly recall recipes that specify using a green onion as the brush to pain the sauce on the pancake.

              Is hoisin a regional sauce?

              paulj

              1. re: paulj

                Maybe this article on wiki will give you better answers:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_shu

                My parents came from Shanghai, so I suspect it is more northern than southern.

                I have only seen the wrappers for the moo shu and peking duck. Some restaurants uses the doughy buns for the peking duck also.

                Only seen the green onion dipped in hoisin for peking duck. But I am not an expertise on all chinese regional cuisine.

                Hoisin is used in cantonese food as well. The most common usage is the non-stuffed rice noodle wraps, or turnip cakes. It's also very common condiment in the vietnamese pho places.