Mu Shu Pork, a popular dish from Northern China, is made with pork tenderloin, eggs, cabbage, and a few special Chinese ingredients. It is served with Mandarin pancakes and hoisin sauce. Essentially, it's a stir fry with a great sauce, served in pancakes and eaten similarly to a taco.
We headed out to a Chinese grocery to pick up a few ingredients: bamboo and wood ear mushrooms, the latter I'd been looking forward to trying out.
I used the recipes for both the Mu Shu pork (here) and the pancakes (here) found at Global Table Adventures. Sasha Martin's site chronicles her family's cultural exploration by cooking an authentic menu from a different country every week. It's a great site filled with interesting information, and great recipes.
As for our dinner, she explains the recipes and photographs the process so well, I won't go over that here. I will however make note of a couple of the ingredients.
Bamboo shoots. You can easily find canned bamboo shoots at most supermarkets, but check out these vacuum sealed spring bamboo shoots. Bamboo shoots have been a traditional part of the Chinese diet for over 2,500 years. It is high in protein, for a vegetable, and full of nutrients. The texture is rather crunchy.
And then there's Wood Ear Mushrooms. Also known as black fungus and Cloud Ear fungus. They certainly look like they belong in a forest, somewhere dank and dark. Or at the bottom of the sea - doesn't a bowl full look like seaweed? (The Japanese call it Tree Jellyfish!) The texture is chewy, so make sure to slice it thinly.
A box of these mushrooms was not inexpensive, but then it turns out, you get quite a bit for your money. The box comes with ten individually wrapped (my environmental consciousness was shocked)packages of dried fungus. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms, but I had no idea how many packets I'd need. Most of the writing on box is in Chinese, and gives no ratio from dried to reconstituted. (It does state in English that they "contain eight types of amino acids and vitamins necessary for the human body"). I played it safe and reconstituted two blocks, by filling the bowl with water. Now I have enough mushrooms to make the recipe four times. I wonder if I can freeze the rest?
After letting the dough rest, Elle made the pancakes, adding the sesame oil and green onions, and rolling them out. As for the Mu Shu pork, other than slicing the meat thinly, kids old enough to slice and dice could help out with most of the prep work, and then it's just a matter of stir frying it together.
We really enjoyed this! The girls loved the pancakes (of course), and had their first ones eaten before I sat down with them. We liked this so much, and I had so many leftover ingredients, that I made an extra batch (without the eggs) to freeze for a quick dinner some other time.