Create a slimmed-down version of Moo Shu Pork at home
There's no "moo" in Moo Shu Pork.
I haven't had Moo Shu Pork in years because wheat pancakes are part of the dish. If you're not familiar with the dish, it's a vibrant, stir-fried blend of scrambled eggs, pork (usually pork tenderloin), fresh bamboo shoots, green onion and sweetened rice wine tossed together with dried and reconstituted wood ear mushrooms and day lily flowers.
Wood ear, a black mushroom usually found on the bark of elder trees, add a mild but distinctive flavor and appearance to any moo shu mash-up.
I found a recipe for Moo Shu Pork in The New York Times' archives (cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018333-moo-shu-pork) that served as the basis for my moo shu.
What did I change? I did away with making a sauce from scratch and went with bottled, organic hoisin sauce. No chance that I'd ever find dried lily flowers in my local supermarket, so I omitted them. Instead of pork tenderloin, I used organic ground pork and doubled the quantity from 4 ounces to 8 ounces. As The New York Times suggested, I substituted a container of fresh mung bean sprouts for fresh bamboo shoots.
What did I keep? I already had organic toasted sesame oil, garlic, sake and dried tree ears on hand. I'd gotten them online about six months ago for another Asian dish I was making. Perfect.
The nearly magical change from ¼ cup dried wood ear mushrooms to 2 cups of reconstituted wood ear mushrooms is amazing. Using a microwave-safe measuring cup and filtered water made it easy to reconstitute them.
If I hadn't had dried wood ear mushrooms on hand, 4 ounces of fresh shiitake mushroom caps cut into thin slices would work well.
Now, about those pancakes. A standard moo shu pancake delivers 90 calories and 17 carb grams. A typical serving is two pancakes; that's 180 calories and 34 carb grams. Not so good for this low-carb guy.
My local farmers market solved that problem with beautiful, organically grown, red leaf lettuce. Red leaf lettuce delivers more flavor because of its vitamin K, vitamin A, anthocyanins, lutein and zeaxanthin (good for the eyes). Leaf lettuce has nearly zero carbs and only 5 calories per cup -- magic.
Moo Shu Pork takes a while to prepare the ingredients. Cooking takes a little longer because almost every element is cooked quickly but separately and then combined at the end. This makes each ingredient stand out and look appetizing. Plus, there's no thickener, like cornstarch, needed.
My Moo Shu Pork using fresh red leaf lettuce leaves turned out great. The filling tasted nearly the same as the moo shu I've had in restaurants, and I saved myself 34 carb grams and almost 200 calories.
Give it a try.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mauer's Moo Shu Pork
2 tablespoons rice wine (like sake)
1 packet organic stevia
8 ounces ground pork (organic preferred)
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup dried wood ear fungus (often sold as "black fungus")*
1 small carrot, peeled, trimmed and cut into match sticks
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 5-ounce (net weight) container (about 2 rounded cups) mung bean sprouts, rinsed well and drained
8 large red or green leaf lettuce leaves, rinsed and drained
In a small bowl, mix together rice wine and stevia. Set aside.
Place dried wood ear mushrooms into a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup and fill the cup with water to just above the 2-cup line. Place the cup into a microwave oven and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Remove from the oven, stir and let sit for 30 minutes, or until soft and pliable. Drain the wood ear mushrooms, trim any tough stem ends and cut into thin strips. Set aside.
While the wood ears soak, break the ground pork apart into a small bowl, sprinkle with the salt and work the pork together to mix in the salt. Set aside.
Place a wok or large saute pan over medium heat, and when hot, add 1 tablespoon sesame oil, add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and scramble them, breaking them up into small curds as it sets. When eggs are barely done, scrape into a large bowl, leaving no residue in the pan.
Return pan or wok to high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. When hot, add the onion and ground pork and stir-fry, breaking up the pork until it just loses its pink color. Transfer to the egg bowl.
Return wok or pan to high heat, add a little sesame oil and, when hot, add the bean sprouts and stir-fry until hot but still very crisp. Transfer to the egg bowl.
Return the wok or pan to high heat, add a little sesame oil and, when hot, add the carrots and wood ear mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes until carrots are slightly softened. Transfer to the egg bowl.
Return the wok or pan to medium-high heat, add the sweetened wine and when it starts to boil, transfer everything from the egg bowl to the wok or pan; tossing to combine.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving platter.
Serve with lettuce leaves and hoisin sauce.
To serve: Drizzle a teaspoon of hoisin sauce along the leaf stem, scoop about a half-cup of the pork mixture into the lettuce leaf and roll up.
*4 ounces of sliced fresh shiitake mushroom caps may successfully be substituted for wood ear mushrooms.
Nutrition values per serving: 285 calories (65.8% from fat), 20.8 g fat (4.9 g saturated fat), 5.8 g carbohydrates (4.6 net carbs), 3.5 g sugars, 1.2 g fiber, 18 g protein, 202 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium.