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.
- 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.
- 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<
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.
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?
Properly done the pancakes are labor intensive. If I recall correctly one step is to put cakes together with a coating of sesame oil between, then roll them again to reduce thickness even further. I don't recall whether they are peeled apart before or after cooking. It's been a long time since I made these. I'm not surprised that some would prefer to substitute a flour tortilla.
With a much more expensive, and labor intensive dish like Beijing duck, the relative cost of the pancakes is less.
Here's a recipe:
and mu shu recipe (and discussion), she even mentions 'mu shu wraps' :
I love Moo Shu, whether pork or shrimp. The two pancakes I have seen are the traditional mandarin ones which are floury and somewhat reminscent of tortillas. The other kind at the cheaper Chinese restaurant are the ones clearly not made in house and slightly rubbery. I also prefer cabage, scallion, wood ear, egg and meat. It should be moderately juicy and not too dry or saucy.
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.
Maybe this article on wiki will give you better answers:
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.
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.