Mu Shu Pork

Let's leave the athletics to the professionals and let's crack open a bottle of Tsingtao beer and get cooking some traditional Beijing recipes. Who has not heard of Mu Shu Pork, that tradition from Beijing? No one, that's who! Mu Shu Pork - for years it was the most popular Chinese restaurant dish in the west. Thin strips of pork are either deep-fried or stir-fried, and then combined with a colorful array of exotic Chinese vegetables. A flavorful sauce and bits of scrambled egg make the dish complete. Mu Shu Origins It's unclear exactly how this popular dish from northern China came to be named. Most sources state that "mu shu" refers to flower blossoms, possibly cassia or from the olive tree. However, in The Chinese Kitchen the Cantonese call this dish "muk see yuk" or "wood shaved pork." Whatever the case, there's no doubt that the "woodsy" appearance of mu shu pork, with its combination of lily buds, cloud ears, and scrambled egg (meant to represent the yellow flower blossoms) is very appealing. Traditionally, Mu Shu Pork is served in Peking pancakes brushed with hoisin sauce. Continuing with the forest theme, the pancakes are meant to represent the ground or earth. At a restaurant you may find them served with "green onion brushes" - slices of green onion that have slits cut on either side - that are used to spread on the hoisin sauce. The mu shu filled pancake is rolled up like a cigar, and then dipped in plum or hoisin sauce. It's probably not surprising that many people think of mu shu pork solely as a restaurant dish - after all, how many of us have the time to be whipping up pancakes and soaking fungus on a typical weeknight? But there are ways to make the process easier and less time consuming. For one thing, both the pancakes and the mu shu pork can be prepared ahead of time and frozen. MU SHU PORK IN PANCAKES INGREDIENTS Marinade: 8 ounces pork loin or pork butt, trimmed, and cut into thin match-stick strips 2 tablespoons rice wine or dry vermouth 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 1/4 cup vegetable oil 3 large eggs, beaten 2 cups thinly sliced bok choy 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions 1 cup fresh bean sprouts 1/2 cup bamboo shoots (rinsed and well drained if canned) 4 ounces wood ear or baby chanterelle mushrooms, stems trimmed and thinly sliced 1 teaspoon minced garlic 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 teaspoon sugar Hoisin Sauce METHOD In a bowl toss the pork with the rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, garlic, and ginger. Cover and marinate, refrigerated, for 2 to 4 hours. In a large wok or sautZ pan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and quickly scramble. Remove the set eggs from the pan and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the work and add the drained pork strips. Stir fry over high heat until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients except the hoisin sauce and pancakes to the wok and stir-fry until wilted and well combined, about 2 minutes. Return the pork to the pan and stir to mix well and heat through. Add the eggs and mix well. Remove from the heat and place in a decorative bowl. To serve, place 1 pancake on a plate and coat with 2 teaspoons of hoisin sauce. Top with the Mu Shu Pork filling, roll into a cylinder, and serve immediately. MANDARIN PANCAKES Makes about 20 to 24 pancakes 2 cups all purpose flour 1 cup boiling water About 3 tablespoons sesame oil METHOD In a mixing bowl put the flour, and gradually stir in the water, mixing to make a thin batter. When cool enough to handle, work the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Place the sesame oil in a small bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 3-inch cutter. With your fingers, daub a small amount of oil on top of 1 round. Place another round on top and press together. Roll the 2 rounds together to form a circle about 6 or 7-inches in diameter. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth until ready to cook, and repeat with the remaining dough. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook 1 pancake at a time until barely golden and dry on both sides, turning once, about 1 minute. Remove from the pan, and when cool enough to handle, carefully separate the 2 pancakes. Wrap in foil until ready to use, or refrigerate. (To reheat, place in a steamer insert and steam, covered, for 5 minutes.) AND FINALLY... Swimming Marathon Tryouts Tryouts for the U.S. Olympic women's marathon swim team were to be held. The first was in California; a swim from Santa Monica to Catalina doing only the breaststroke. Three women signed up for the tryouts - a brunette, a redhead and a blonde. The race started, and after approximately 14 hours, the brunette staggered up on the shore and was declared the winner. About 40 minutes later, the redhead crawled ashore and was declared the second place finisher. Nearly 4 hours after that, the blonde finally came ashore and promptly collapsed in front of the worried onlookers. When the reporters asked why it took her so long to complete this regulation breaststroke race, she replied, "I don't want to sound like I'm a sore loser, but I think those two other girls were using their arms." Faster, Stronger, Higher, Chef Gilligan