14 December, 2011


I decided I was going to make dinner easy on myself the other night...the operative phrase here was "going to".  What this means to me is that at least one element of my dinner wasn't made by me.  I was in the mood for flavor, we had chicken...and the wheels started turning.  Mu Shu Chicken and Vegetable Fried Rice sounded pretty good to me.  I've had Mu Shu Pork one time in my life; it was good.  I loved the concept more than I loved how the dish turned out with the pork though.  So I switched it up.  

I talked to a couple Mandarin friends of mine to get a good idea of what direction to go in and my plan came to a screeching halt.  Apparently different families in different Mandarin regions will put their own special stuff into the mix at will.  Talk about confusing!  But two things should always remain in their opinion, the "mu" (cloud/wood ear fungus) and the "shu" (lily bulbs).  Lucky for me, I already had that stuff.  Whew!  *wipes nervous sweat from her brow*  But, the list and differing opinions of what can be used here is astounding.  One person told me cabbage, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, "Chinese mushrooms", egg and green onion.  Another person insisted on cabbage, lily bulbs, cloud ear fungus, red bell pepper, eggs, green onion...their list was a might bit longer.  They won my vote.  

Let's get started this meal can be a bit fiddledy farty if you're not getting your veggies prepped in the right time frames for the Mu Shu and the fried rice.  

Mu Shu Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, julienned
4 eggs
1 red bell pepper
1 ounce of rehydrated lily bulbs
1 ounce of rehydrated cloud/wood ear fungus
1 small head of cabbage, cored and cut into shreds
1 bunch of green onion, julienned
1 T. minced garlic
1 T. soy sauce
vegetable oil for cooking

Marinade for Chicken
4 T. soy sauce
2 tsp. organic cane sugar
2 T. cornstarch

Hoisin Sauce
Wei-Chuan Mu-Shu Shells
(my store bought, pre-made contributions for the meal) 

Vegetable Fried Rice
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1 c. frozen peas
1 c. coined carrots, mostly cooked
3 eggs
2 T. soy sauce
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
3 c. cooked rice

The first thing you need to do is get your meat marinating.  Mix the cornstarch, sugar and soy sauce with a whisk until well blended then pour into a gallon size plastic bag with the strips of meat.  Set it aside to mingle.  The lily bulbs and cloud/wood ear fungus need to be rehydrated before being cooked.  Put 1 ounce of lily bulbs in hot water and set aside.  Do the same with 1 ounce of the cloud/wood ear fungus; both will take about 8 minutes.  (Once rehydrated, they may still have some rough ends.  Cut them off before adding to wok.)

Mu Shu Prep

Now, get your carrots cooking.  These need to be about half-way cooked before you add them to the rice.  Once those are cooking, get the veggies prepped for both the rice and the mu shu.  Keep your cabbage, peppers, garlic and green onion in one bowl and the peas, carrots and white onion in another.  Once ALL the veggies are prepped beat your 4 mu shu eggs with a fork.  Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat with 1 T. of vegetable oil.  Pour eggs in and let them cook without disturbing them.  I have no doubt this is normally a scramble, but if you're julienning and shredding everything else, might as well julienne the eggs as well.  Let the eggs cook like you would an omelet.  Make sure it is cooked through before removing from heat.  Transfer to a cutting board and use a pizza cutter to slice in half, then cut each half into thin strips.  Set aside.  Remove lily bulbs and fungus from their soak.  Trim off any rough edges.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you haven't already, remove your carrots from the boiling water and set them aside for the fried rice.

This part goes pretty quickly and easily...  Heat 1 T. of oil in your wok.  Toss in half your green onion strips and your garlic, saute for 2 minutes to release some of the juices; drain your chicken and toss in the strips.  Stir fry until there is no longer pink showing, then add in the red peppers; stir fry with chicken for 4 minutes.  Add the cabbage and allow it to cook down; about 3 minutes.  When the cabbage looks about half wilted add lily bulbs, fungus, egg strips and remaining green onion.  Finish with the 1 T. soy sauce.  Set aside in serving bowl and cover.

Mu Shu Chicken
Toss your mu shu shells into the oven now.  Let them heat for about 5 minutes, then turn the oven off.

In the same wok heat 1 T. of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Beat your 3 eggs with a fork and stir fry them, when they are scrambled remove from the wok and set aside.  Add 1 T. of oil to the wok and saute the onions.  Toss in your mostly cooked carrots, peas, 1 tsp. salt, 2 T. soy sauce, 2 tsp. vegetable oil and cooked rice.  Stir fry and combine well; incorporate your scrambled eggs.

Vegetable Fried Rice

 Now comes the FUN part...the EATING!  Grab one of your mu shu shells and put about a 1/2 cup of your Mu Shu Chicken inside.  Drizzle with a healthy amount of Hoisin sauce...serve it with some of your fried rice and you're GOLDEN.

Not bad for a boring Tuesday night at home with the Mister and the Sprout.  Everything tasted great.  My Mister said that he enjoyed it more than the restaurant we tried Mu Shu Pork at way back in September.  If you know my Mister...you know that couldn't possibly be a lie lol...  If he thought it sucked, he'd have told me; he's not shy about it because he knows if he doesn't like it and doesn't say something he just MIGHT be eating it again.  Smart guy.  I'd rather know the truth anyhow, I'm just that way.

For those die hard authentic folk....

Mu Shu Shells
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup boiling water
1 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil placed in a small dish

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add boiling water. Mix with a fork until combined.  When the dough is cool to the touch, knead the dough in the bowl by hand for 1 to 2 minutes. The dough should be soft and smooth.  Form the dough into a rope and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a uniform ball and then flatten with the palm of your hand.  Take two pieces, one in each hand, and dip one side of each in the oil. Press oiled sides together and again with the palm of your hand, flatten into a 3 inch circle.  Use a rolling pin, roll each circle into a thin, larger circle approximately 8 inches in diameter. Repeat, making three more pairs of two pancakes each.

Heat a 10 inch, non-stick frying pan over low heat until the pan is hot. Place one of the four (paired) pancakes in the pan. Cook for 1 minute on each side (keeping them back to back).  Place in a covered casserole dish and set aside on the counter.  Repeat above steps with the three remaining pairs of pancakes.  Allow to cool approximately 5 minutes at which point they should be soft, moist and easy to peel apart. Keep them covered (to retain moisture) in warm oven until ready to serve. 

I just didn't have it in me to make these...the store bought ones are just as good if reheated properly and kept moist.

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