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~ How to: Make Mandarin-Style (MooShu) Pancakes~

IMG_4956It's "Chinese Week" here on KE.  I woke up on Monday morning wanting Asian food, and, more specifically, I wanted:  Moo Shu Pork.  If you've never eaten "moo shu" (which means "shredded" in Chinese), the best way I can describe it is:  Moo shu is to Asian cuisine, what the fajita is to Mexican cuisine.  In a nutshell: Strips of shredded beef, chicken or pork, and vegetables, are quickly stir-fried (fajita=grilled or sauteed), topped with spicy hoisin sauce (fajita=salsa) and wrapped burrito-style in a thin, warm, flour pancake (fajita=flour tortilla). In both cases, besides being fun to eat, they are a flavor-packed way to get a good dose of healthy vegetables!

IMG_4707My recipe for ~ Chinatown's Famous Moo Shu (Shredded) Pork ~ is quite authentic.  I have been making it for years and everyone just loves it (and you can find it in Categories 2, 3, 13 or 19).  Over the years, I have, however, gotten lazy with one aspect of its preparation. I've been purchasing Mandarin pancakes at our local Asian market. There is nothing wrong with that. They're almost as good as homemade, so, if you can find them, don't hesitate to purchase them!

ImagesWe live in a college town, and, because of that, we have many great ethnic food stores here in Happy Valley, including three sophisticated Asian markets.  I was shocked to find out that none of them had any Mandarin pancakes in stock (next to soy sauce, how dare an Asian market run out of such a thing).  There were none in the frozen Asian section of any of our grocery stores either.  So, why did this seemingly bad news excite me?  Because I write this cooking blog.  It gives me a great idea for another post, a chance to feature an interesting cooking technique, and, share it with you.  Now I can't wait for you to see how fun and easy it is to make these:

IMG_47688  ounces unbleached, all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups), plus additional bench flour for dusting work surface

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

3/4  cups boiling water

sesame oil

~ Step 1. In a large bowl, stir the flour and salt together.  In the microwave, heat water to boiling.

IMG_4784 IMG_4774~ Step 2. Add the boiling water to the flour. Using an ordinary tablespoon, stir the liquid into the flour until a wet, ragged mixture forms, about 1 minute.




IMG_4789                                                               ~ Step 3. Gather the dough up and form into a rough looking ball. Using the heel of your hand, turning the bowl a quarter turn each time you push down, knead the dough until a smooth ball forms,  (add a bit of bench flour, as necessary to keep ball from sticking to the bottom of the bowl), about 3 minutes.

IMG_4804~ Step 4.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside 30-45 minutes.  Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly-floured work surface.  Using your hands, roll the ball into a 12" log/cylinder.

IMG_4816~ Step 5.  Using a serrated bread knife and a light touch, saw the log into 12, 1" pieces.  Have patience, take it a bit slow, you do not want to squish the pieces of dough.  In the event you do squish a piece or two, just stand it up on its side and form it back into a round shape.

IMG_4827~ Step 6.  Turn each piece of dough, cut side up, lightly dust each piece with flour and using the palm of your hand, press down to form 12, 3" round discs.

IMG_4843~ Step 7.  Lightly brush the top of six discs (half of them) with sesame oil, meaning:  do not brush all of the discs with oil.

IMG_4848~ Step 8. Place the six remaining discs on top of the oiled discs, to form six pairs.

IMG_4868 IMG_4850~ Step 9. Using the heel of your hand, compress the discs to form 6, 4"-4 1/2" discs.

~ Step 10.  On a lightly-floured surface, roll each pair into a 6 1/2"-7" pancake.  Place pancakes (do not stack them but slightly overlapping is ok), on a platter.

IMG_4910~ Step 11.  Place an ungreased 10" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  One at a time, cook each pancake, until opaque and beginning to beginning to bubble across its surface, about 60 seconds on the first side, and...

IMG_4918... 30 seconds on the second side, until brown spots appear.

~ Step 12.   Remove each pancake from the skillet, and, while it is still hot, using a thin spatula (I just use my fingertips), find a seam and gently pull it apart, to form two pancakes.  Stack the finished pancakes on top of each other and keep them covered with a piece of plastic wrap, to keep them from drying out, until all pancakes are cooked and separated: 

IMG_4919How to:  Make Mandarin-Style (MooShu) Pancakes:  Recipe yields 12 pancakes, or, six servings.

Special Equipment List:  ordinary tablespoon; 2-cup measuring container; plastic wrap; large cutting board; serrated bread knife; pastry brush; rolling pin; 10" nonstick skillet

IMG_4955Cook's Note:  Tradionally, at serving time, warm moo shu pancakes are folded into quarters and placed on a large platter or portioned onto individual dishes!

Extra Cook's Note:  Pancakes can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or, interleaved with wax paper and frozen for up to six months. Reheat, covered with plastic, in microwave, about 30 seconds.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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