October 14, 2011

Moo Shu Chicken with Thin Pancakes and Hoisin Sauce

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. 

I have to be honest. If it wasn’t for this Daring Cook’s Challenge, I don’t think I would have ever attempted to make Moo Shu at home. We occasionally order Moo Shu from our local Chinese restaurant. I like it fine. But it’s not something I start to miss after a few weeks of not having it.

If you’ve never had it, Moo Shu is a Chinese stir fry dish. You make it with shredded vegetables, meat, and scrambled egg. You roll this filling into thin pancakes and eat it with a sauce.

You can change up the stir fry as you like. But some vegetables are traditional. Moo Shu traditionally contains cabbage, scallions, bamboo shoots, and dried black mushrooms. I’m not a fan of dried black mushrooms so I used white button mushrooms. I also had a zucchini in the fridge so I sliced it up into the thin strips and threw that in there too.

The Moo Shu I’ve had has always been served with plum sauce. Apparently, though, hoisin sauce is more traditional. I made the recipe provided in the challenge and it was good, but didn’t taste anything like the hoisin sauce in my fridge (which may be a reflection of the hoisin sauce in my fridge). The homemade hoisin ended up being a lot less sweet than bottled hoisin, and a really nice complement to the Moo Shu.

The final (and most fun and challenging) part of the challenge was making the thin pancakes that you serve with Moo Shu. The ingredients for these pancakes are super basic – flour, water, vegetable oil and sesame oil. It’s the method that’s so interesting. (More details below!)

All in all I have to say that I really enjoyed participating in this challenge…and eating the results!

The sauce is so simple. Just gather your ingredients.

Then whisk them together until they’re combined.

Next, gather your veggies. I used Napa cabbage, button mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallions, and zucchini.

Thinly slice the veggies and set them aside.

Thinly slice your chicken, and set that aside as well.

When you're ready to make the Moo Shu, scramble your eggs until they are just barely set. Put them aside.

Now add your chicken to the oil in a very hot wok or pan and saute for a minute until it turns white.

Add the rest of your veggies to the pot.

And then add the salt, soy sauce and rice wine.

The directions said to cook this mixture for another 2 minutes, but I cooked it for several minutes longer to evaporate some of the liquid at the bottom of the pot.

Add the sesame oil and scrambled eggs to your chicken and veggie mixture, breaking up the eggs to distribute them throughout the stir fry.

Finally, the thin pancakes. Make these last so you can serve them fresh and warm. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. (I was so excited to use my new digital scale!)

Add water to the flour then knead it into a soft dough. Cover with a damp paper towel and set aside for 30 minutes. (This would be a good time to make the hoisin sauce or stir fry if you haven't already.)

Now the fun part. Knead the dough again for a few minutes until it's smooth.

Divide it into 2 or 3 equal parts, then further divide one of those parts into 6 small pieces.

Take 2 of those pieces. In your hands, roll each piece into a ball. Then with your palms, flatten each ball into a pancake.

Now, using a rolling pin, roll each pancake thinner so that they are about 3 inches in diameter.

Brush the top of each pancake with a little sesame oil.

Then put one pancake, oiled-side down, on the other pancake.

Roll the doubled pancake out into a 6- to 8-inch circle.

Repeat this process for the remaining dough.

Heat a frying pan over high heat. When you're ready to start making the pancakes, reduce the heat to low. Put one double pancake on the pan.

When the underside is covered with light brown spots, flip the pancake over and cook the second side.

When the second side is cooked, remove it to a plate. Now, carefully separate the two pancakes. They should come apart pretty easily. Be careful -- a lot of steam will escape when you separate the pancakes. Cover the cooked pancakes with a damp paper cloth while you cook the remaining pancakes.

To assemble the Moo Shu, put a few tablespoons of stir fry in the center of a pancake.

Fold up the bottom and then fold in the sides, like a burrito.

Drizzle a little hoisin sauce on top and dive in!

Moo Shu Chicken with Thin Pancakes and Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce

4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp peanut butter OR black bean paste
1 Tbsp honey OR molasses
2 tsp white vinegar
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sesame seed oil
¼ tsp Chinese style hot sauce (optional, depending on how hot you want your hoisin
1/8 tsp black pepper

1.      Mix all of the ingredients together by hand using a whisk.

Moo Shu Chicken

2/3 cup Dried black fungus (I used white button mushrooms)
½ lb chicken breast (the original recipe called for pork loin)
¾ cup bamboo shoots, thinly cut
3 cups Napa cabbage, thinly cut
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 scallions
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine
A few drops sesame oil
12 thin pancakes to serve (see recipe, below)

1.      Soak the fungus in warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse and drain. Discard any hard stalks, then thinly shred. (If using regular button mushrooms, just cut into thin slices without soaking first.)

2.      Thinly cut the chicken, bamboo shoots and Napa cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds. Thinly slice the scallions.

3.      Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.

4.      Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep to one side.

5.      Heat the remaining oil. Stir-fry the shredded chicken for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the fungus (or mushrooms), bamboo shoots, Napa cabbage and scallions. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining salt, soy sauce and rice wine. Blend well and continue stirring for another 2 minutes (or until most of the liquid evaporates).

6.      Add the scrambled eggs, stirring to break them into small bits. Add the sesame oil and blend well.

Serves 4

Thin Pancakes

2 cups (9 4/5 oz) all-purpose flour
About 3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
Dry flour for dusting
about 2 Tbsp sesame oil

1.      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.

2.      Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour.  Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 2 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 6-8 pieces.  Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.

3.      Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat  pancake.

4.      Using a pastry brush, brush sesame oil onto the top of all of the pancakes. Top each pancake with another, so that the sesame-oil covered sides are touching. Each pancake should be a double pancake.

5.      Further roll each doubled pancake into a 6 to 8 inch circle.

6.      Place an ungreased 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. When little light-brown spots appear on  the underside, flip the pancake until the other side is cooked.

7.      Remove to a plate, and separate the two pancakes. Be careful separating the pancakes because steam will escape.

8.  Cover pancakes with a damp cloth until ready to serve.

Makes 12-15 pancakes

To Assemble

1.      Put a spoonful of the stir fry in the center of a pancake. Drizzle a little Hoisin sauce on top. Fold up the bottom of the pancake, then fold in the sides.

2.      Eat immediately!


  1. I am so glad that you enjoyed this challenge! Your Moo Shu looks absolutely delicious - wonderfully done. Thank you for cooking with us this month!

  2. Your Moo Shu looks delicious, love all the photos. Next time I will make pancakes like you did. Great job!

  3. You did an amazing job photographing the step by step, I've been having trouble doing that :/
    Your final dish looks wonderful and delicious. I agree with you that making the pancakes was the best part :)

  4. You know, I think you've convinced me that I should have tried pairing the pancakes and pulling them apart after cooking them. I just did the original version where you make them one at a time. Will definitely try it next time! Your dish looks great!

  5. Wow! Your photos are amazing. I love to see the step-by-step photos. It really helps when I'm making a new recipe, especially one that has so many steps like this one.

  6. I found that I had to cook mine longer to get rid of excess liquid too. Next time I'm going to try chicken.

  7. I loved the pancakes most too
    and you did a great job with the step by step pictures
    I agree with you on the fact that I too may have not tried this if it wasn't for the challenge but I am glad I did

  8. love your pictures of the process - really lovely. Great job!

  9. I don't eat a lot of Chinese, but your photos have really enticed me to give this a try.

  10. Very helpful to see the step by step pics of making the pancakes. I didn't do the doubling of the pancakes as I was a little unsure how to do it but it makes sense now! Love your moo shu!!

  11. Love your step-by-step photos and your Moo Shu looks phenomenal - great job on the challenge!

  12. I love your step-by-step pictures too. Your pancakes are beautifully thin - I'll definitely try out the double-rolling technique next time. Beautiful Moo Shu!

  13. What great detailed photos - and a delicious looking challenge!

  14. You did an amazing job with the pancakes. It really is awesome how well they turn out using the double rolling method! Your moo shu looks delicious, and I am so glad that you were able to cook with us this month!

  15. I love the step by step photos and your pancakes are perfect.:)


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