Mu-Shu Vegetables with Chinese Pancakes

This is a vegetarian version of a traditional Chinese favourite, Mu-Shu Pork. Here, I rely upon an unusually flavourful combination of spices, vegetables and condiments. Particularly important to this recipe are the Chinese dried wood ears and lily buds. These may be difficult to obtain but are worth the extra effort of searching for them.

Their textures and the flavours they absorb in the stir-frying are the basis for the success of the dish. When the combined ingredients are eaten with Chinese Pancakes and hoisin sauce, what might be an ordinary dish is transformed into a festive affair. Most of the preparation may be done ahead of time and, once the pancakes are made, the rest is easily accomplished, making this a perfect dish for a dinner party. You may experiment with your own seasonal favourite vegetables or serve with rice instead of pancakes.

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Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil, preferably groundnut
  • 15 g (½ oz) Chinese dried wood ears
  • 15 g (½ oz) Chinese lily buds
  • 100 g (4 oz) red peppers
  • 4 spring onions
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 175 g (6 oz) bean sprouts
  • Chinese Pancakes
  • hoisin sauce, for dipping

Method

Combine the beaten eggs with 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil and the salt in a small bowl. Heat a frying-pan or wok over moderate heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Pour in the egg mixture and spread it quickly over the surface of the pan until it forms a thin crepe-like pancake. There is no need to turn it over. Remove from the heat and, when cool, shred the egg pancake and set aside.

Soak the dried wood ears and lily buds in warm water for about 20 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, finely shred the peppers and spring onions. Squeeze the excess liquid from the wood ears and lily buds. Finely shred the wood ears and snap off the hard ends of the lily buds.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over high heat and add the remaining groundnut oil. When almost smoking, add the wood ears, lily buds and rice wine and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the garlic, ginger and dark soy sauce and stir-fry for another minute. Then put in the shredded egg and bean sprouts and continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Stir in the remaining sesame oil and turn onto a large platter. Serve with the Chinese pancakes and hoisin sauce.

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