Yes, you are reading that correctly! In – what seems like forever and is probably close to it anyway – I’ve finally managed to complete a Daring Cooks challenge again! Whoohoo!! I love doing those challenges but sometimes it is just too time consuming to keep up with everything and work at the same time. After a fairly busy summer and a rather unsettling spring before that, I simple didn’t get around to doing any after the last one in March of this year. But life seems to have settled down a bit so hopefully I should be able to join in some fun challenges in the coming months!
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 also particularly liked this months challenge as the Asian kitchen is one of my favorites. It’s usually quick, light and healthy and with the winter months and heavy Christmas food ahead of us, that is just what we need to stay sane and healthy.
This challenge was all about making specific thin Chinese pancakes and then fill them with a stirfry. In addition to that we also had to make our own hoisin sauce as well. I use hoisin sauce quite a lot when cooking (as we do cook Asian flavors a lot) but had never even thought of making my own. To start with that, as I also started actually by making this sauce first. It’s simple; you whip the ingredients together and you’re done. I did think that the taste was too salty but that could have been because I used a dark soy sauce. I never know what to use if something is too salty… Anyone?
The pancakes took the longest as it involved making the dough, having it rest for 30 minutes and then rolling it in three separate cigar shapes, cutting that into 6-8 pieces, rolling a ball of each and then transferring that into a paper thin pancake. Right… As you can probably see by looking at the photos, my pancakes could have definitely been a little thinner. I thought they were thin but the examples made y Shelley and Ruth looked much thinner, more like crepes almost. They gave us three different ways of making the pancakes but I just stuck to the first. What I did have – and I have no idea if that is supposed to happen – was that my pancakes puffed up while baking them. Did anyone else have that? Or was that because I cooked them too thick or too long?
Whatever the case; it was really delicious so in that sense it was all success. I didn’t make any photos during the making of the pancakes as it was pitch dark at that time.. Not really ideal for photos..I will definitely be making this recipe again, although I will not be making my own pancakes. Or maybe a different kind that would be easier to work with. Have to think about that!
Here are the recipes!
Mu shoo pork
MU SHOO PORK
- 150-200g various mushrooms (I used shii-take, oyster mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms)
- 450g pork loin or butt
- 100g bamboo shoots
- 170g Chinese cabbage (thinly sliced)
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 scalions (or spring onions)
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice wine
- a few dropssesame oil
- 12 pieces thin pancakes (to serve)
- 560g all purpose flour
- 300ml hot (boiling) water
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce (I used dark soy but thought it was a bit too salty. Will use light soy next time!)
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or black bean paste)
- 1 tablespoon honey (or molasses)
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 20 drops Chinese style hot sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
MU SHOO PORK
|Clean the mushrooms of your choice and finely cut them.
Thinly cut the pork, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds.
Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.
|Heat about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) 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 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.
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 with your fingers.
|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 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.|
|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 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.
Alternately (I know, an alternate to the alternate...), if you would prefer not to dip the dough in the sesame oil, you can achieve a similar result with a slight modification. Again working two pieces at a time, roll each piece into a three inch pancake. Using a pastry brush, brush sesame oil onto the top of one of the pancakes, and top it with the other pancake. Further roll the doubled pancake into a 6 to 8 inch circle and cook as the above alternate method. This method was actually our favorite of the three, and yielded the best results – very thin pancakes that held up a little better and had the most authentic texture. We had the best luck brushing a bit of sesame oil on both circles of dough, then sandwiching them together. Just be careful separating the pancakes after cooking them on both sides – heat (steam) does get caught between them, so don't burn your fingers!
- 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.
- And, in case you are curious, we both asked our local Chinese food restaurants about their Moo Shu pancakes, and they informed us that they purchase them prepared, and simply steam them for their customers as they order the dish.
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.