Osmanthus pork

Muxurou, “osmanthus pork”, 木须肉 , is this month’s Daring Cook’s dish. It’s a Northern Chinese dish, and it seems a Northern American one too…

Served with hoisin sauce and hot chun bing crepes. And scallion brushes, so guests can take sauce with them.

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.
To see the recipes of the challenge, it’s at the end of this post. To see the other Daring Cooks’ dishes, click here. (soon to be online)

That’s the season of osmanthus in Osaka…

The challenge is mostly about the popular US version. I have browsed the Chinese web a little to find that :

The Chinese version…from what I understood

Ingredients :
The black ear mushroom, the pork, the eggs are in every version. Seasoning is usually garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper.
That very often includes cucumbers, and a sort of dry flower (that I didn’t get in my local market, no relation with my decorative edible flowers). All type of other veggies, or no veggie also exist.

Pork :
The meat after cutting is mixed with salt, egg whites and flour/starch (common in Chinese recipe, the purpose is to make it softer). You can wet the flour before mixing in. Let a few minutes. Then 2 options :
Direct : fry the meat (and get rid of excess oil to continue stir-fry)
Double : poach it in water at 80 degree C, when it changes color, drain the water, later stir-fry it with the veggies.
I did the second.

The eggs :
Some say to add a tbs of water to the eggs while beating.

Cutting :
Everything seems to exist. Slices, threads…

Hoishin sauce :
I think most Chinese buy theirs (who makes mustard at home ?) and maybe some of the big restaurants make theirs in huge batches once a year. And it’s not harder to find a decent commercial than to find the ingredients.
It’s sweet potato sauce.
It contains (checked a dozen of brands) : sugar, miso (it’s soy miso, like haccho miso, another miso would do), salt, sweet potato, sesame paste (tahini, or sesame you paste in a mortar), garlic, red chili (raw or pickled in salt), sometimes coloring and nasty stuff that you can skip. You need to cook it. I simmered it 30 minutes.

So let’s make it…

Black ear wood mushrooms, re-hydrated.

Bamboo shoots and cucumber were my choice of veggies.

Double cooking of the meat :

Raw filet.

After boiling.
Another dish with the double cooking method :
“Sichuan huiguorou” styled chicken

The eggs

Ready to stir-fry :

The finished dish without the flowers.

Home-made hoisin sauce :

Cut the scallion stalks and fringe your fingers with a sharrrp knife. I use scissors or a gadget.
Either fringe the tip of the stalk, then cut that the good length. Refresh in cold water.

With left-over of hoisin sauce, you can make fried noodles :
Hoi hoi hoisin, “seafood” noodles

The Gourmande signature : the decorative flowers.

Recipes of the challenge

Source for pancakes and pork : The Chinese Kitchen. Deh-Ta Hsiung

Thin Pancakes:

Makes 24-30 pancakes
Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes’ standing time
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

4 cups (960 ml) (560 gm) (19¾ oz) all purpose flour
About 1½ cup (300ml) (10 fl oz) boiling water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil
Dry flour for dusting

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.

Moo Shu Pork:

Serves 4
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking time: 6-8 minutes

2/3 cup (1 oz) (30 gm) Dried black fungus (‘wood ears’)
½ lb (450 gm) pork loin or butt
¾ cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) bamboo shoots, thinly cut
3 cups (6 oz) (170 gm) Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) vegetable oil
2 scallions
1 tablespoon (15 ml) light soy sauce
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rice wine
A few drops sesame oil
12 thin pancakes to serve

Soak the fungus in warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse and drain. Discard any hard stalks, then thinly shred.
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.

Hoisin Sauce: (American recipe)

(source: http://recipes.epicurean.com/recipe/13249/hoisin-sauce.html)

While most restaurants, or at least those at which I have ordered the dish, serve this with plum sauce, none of the cook books or online recipes that I have seen have referred to that as being traditional. Most that reference serving it with a sauce call for it to be served with hoisin sauce.

4 tablespoons (60 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) peanut butter OR black bean paste
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 (optional, depending on how hot you want your hoisin sauce)
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) black pepper

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.

8 thoughts on “Osmanthus pork

  1. Wow – you did an awesome job with this. And thank you for the interesting information about the true Chinese Moo Shu – I really appreciate it!! Thanks for cooking with us this month!

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  3. Wow…I am completely blown away by where you took this challenge! I don’t even know where to start because I want it all in my mouth now! Your photos are just WOW, some of the best food photography I’ve ever seen. Simply put, you are a moo shu goddess 😉

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