The Daring Cooks took the total back-burner the month, (you will see why at the end of the month!) and it actually wasn't until a few days ago that I woke up in the middle of the night thinking "OH CRAP! I I totally forgot about the Daring Cooks!" Luckily, it wasn't a huge nightmare afterall.
The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cookand 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 have never made or ordered Moo Shu before (I'm an empress chicken/beef and broccoli type of girl), so I didn't really have a clue as to what I was getting into. If you, like me, have never had Moo Shu before, you are in for a real treat! Not only was this simple and straightforward to prepare, but it was simply delicious and fun to eat! They are kind of like an asian taco - the thin pancakes are kind of like flour tortillas, then the delicious and nutritious filling, and the homemade hoison sauce is really awesome sauce! If you make nothing else, make the hoisin sauce! We really enjoyed this meal, and there were no leftovers at all!
Makes 24-30 pancakes, Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes' standing time Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
· 4 cups all purpose flour
· 1½ cup boiling water
· 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
· Dry flour for dusting
1. 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.
2. Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces. Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.
3. 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.
4. Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place 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.
Alternate method for preparing the pancakes: Once the dough has rested and been kneaded again, divide it into an even number of small pieces, rolling each into a ball. Working with two balls of dough at a time, dip the bottom of one ball lightly into sesame oil and press it onto the top of the second ball. Press the double layer flat, then roll the doubled pancake layers into 6 to 8 inch circles. In a dry pan, cook on each side until dry and lightly blistered (but without browning). Separate pancakes after cooking.
• Be sure to use very hot-to-boiling water, as it helps relax the gluten, which will aid in rolling the pancakes super thin.
• Adjust the heat of your pan as needed to cook the pancakes without burning them. I had to keep my burner on medium (rather than low) heat in order for my pancakes to cook properly (low was drying them out too much without cooking them fully), so watch your pancakes carefully.
• If the pancakes are not to be used as soon as they are cooked, they can be warmed up, either in a steamer for 5-6 minutes, or in a microwave oven for 20-30 seconds, depending on the power.
Moo Shu Pork:
Serves 4 Preparation time: 25-30 minutes, Cooking time: 6-8 minutes
· 2/3 cup Dried black fungus ('wood ears')
· ½ lb pork loin or butt
· ¾ cup bamboo shoots, thinly cut
· 3 cups Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut
· 3 large eggs
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
· 2 scallions
· 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
· 2 teaspoons rice wine
· A few drops sesame oil
· 12 thin pancakes to serve
1. Soak the fungus in warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse and drain. Discard any hard stalks, then thinly shred.
2. Thinly cut the pork, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds.
3. Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.
4. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep to one side.
5. Heat the remaining oil. Stir-fry the shredded pork for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the fungus, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and scallions. Stir-fry for about 2-3 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.
6. Eat like taco
· 4 tablespoons (60 ml) soy sauce
· 2 tablespoons (30 ml) peanut butter
· 1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey OR molasses
· 2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar
· 1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) garlic powder
· 2 teaspoons (10 ml) sesame seed oil
· 20 drops (¼ teaspoon) Chinese style hot sauce
· 1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) black pepper
Directions: Simply mix all of the ingredients together by hand using a sturdy spoon. At first it does not appear like it will mix, but keep at it just a bit longer and your sauce will come together.
Final Preparation and Serving:
Each of the three components that comprise the complete Moo Shu dish are served separately, and the diner prepares each serving on his or her own plate. Most restaurants provide four pancakes, a serving of Moo-Shu and a small dish of hoisin sauce as a single serving. To prepare each pancake for eating, the following is the most common process: a small amount of hoisin sauce is spread onto the pancake, on top of which a spoonful of the stir-fry is placed. In order to prevent (or, realistically, minimize) the filling from spilling out while eating, the bottom of the pancake is folded up, then the pancake is rolled, similarly to a soft taco. Once rolled, the prepared pancake is eaten immediately.
Other Recipes and Information:
In a shallow skillet, add ¼ cup (60 ml) (1 oz) (30 gm) of sesame seeds to 1 cup (240 ml) of vegetable or canola oil (any neutral oil will work) and cook the mixture, over medium heat, for about two minutes, until the seeds begin to brown. If any of the seeds begin to burn, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool, then blend it in the blender. Allow the blended mixture to sit for two hours, then strain and bottle the resulting oil.
Storage and Freezing Instructions: The thin pancakes, once cooked, do not store fabulously well – storing them in the refrigerator dries them out. We recommend making approximately as many as you think you will need at the time you prepare the meal. The uncooked dough, however, stores in the refrigerator wrapped well in plastic wrap. We both found that a half batch was sufficient for our families (two adults and one child).
The Moo Shu can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for several days, and reheats very nicely. Leftovers can be served traditionally, or even over rice for a different feel to the dish.
The hoisin sauce can be stored in the refrigerator, as sitting does not alter the flavor in any way. Just be sure to shake or mix your stored sauce before serving, as it does separate a bit upon sitting.