Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mu Shu Vegetables with Barbecued Pork (Page 489)

RECIPE #1019

  • Date: Saturday, August 29, 2009 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+

It's a mystery even to me that I hadn't made this recipe yet, since mu shu is one of my favorites. It is my standard order at any Chinese restaurant. Before making this, though, I had actually never made it myself. In a way I am disinterested in learning to make the things I like to order most in restaurants. I already know just where to find excellent paneer makhani, for instance, so I don't need to make it at home. Or maybe more accurately, I worry that if I made those things myself the restaurant versions would lose their mystery and appeal. Before making this I had never thought about exactly which vegetables were in my mu shu -- it was just a mysterious and delicious blend. And I have no idea what is in the sauce that my paneer sits in when I order paneer makhani, but I like it that way. So perhaps I put off making this recipe for so long simply because I didn't want to ruin the mystery of mu shu forever. But the time came, whatever mystery there was is now gone, and I could still go for some take-out mu shu right now, so perhaps I needn't have worried!

Anyway, I started by coating pork loin in a mixture of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sake, ketchup, sugar, and garlic. I roasted the pork to 150 degrees then cut it into thin strips. I added vegetable oil to a hot wok, then stir-fried strips of leek, minced garlic, minced ginger, red pepper flakes, and thinly sliced shitake mushroom caps for 2 minutes. Then I added thinly sliced cabbage and some sake and cooked another 2 minutes. I added a sauce of cornstarch, chicken broth, soy sauce, sake, sugar, and pepper. Then I added thinly sliced snow peas and the strips of pork. I cooked it another 2 minutes, then served it with Mock Mandarin Pancakes (see post below) spread with some hoisin sauce. This mu shu was good, but not as good as my favorite Chinese take-out versions! The pork had a good flavor to it and the composition of the vegetable mixture was nice. The recipe called for the leeks to be cut into 2-to-3 inch long strips. I cut mine about 3 inches and they were much too long. Because leeks are rather stringy, they made the dish difficult to eat. If I were to make this again I would cut them into 1 inch lengths at most. As discussed in the post below, the mock pancakes were not as delicious as the real thing, but they were super quick to make, which was a plus. My special gentleman liked this mu shu quite a lot, in particular because it was much less greasy than what you typically get in restaurants. I appreciated that too, but I think I will still be ordering mu shu rather than making this version in the future!

This recipe isn't online.

When we were growing up my parents never forced my brother and I to eat when we weren't hungry. This is something that I believe strongly in, and when I have kids I will certainly not be telling them to eat when they don't want to. I very much dislike the feeling of eating when I am not hungry, and I pretty much only do so when politeness in a social situation requires it. So today it was very unusual to be having the following conversation with my special gentleman:

Me: "I don't want to eat it. I'm not hungry."
Him: "It doesn't matter. You need to eat it."
Me: "No thanks."
Him: "You are going to finish that bowl."
Me: "But I'm not hungry."
Him: "It doesn't matter. Just eat it."

It went on like this for quite some time. Finally I caved and ate the bowl of macaroni and cheese that we were discussing. I pouted and complained throughout -- hating the feeling of eating when I really had no desire to. He was right though -- it was important that I ate it. This conversation occured about 30 minutes after I finished a 20 mile run. For whatever reason, I never feel like eating after a long run (this, I am told by other runners, is very unusual!). Since I don't feel hungry, I don't eat. Then, several hours later, I feel terrible. My special gentleman, excellent at seeing patterns, learned this long ago. He has since tried to force me to eat post-run. And eventually I cave, as I did today, and force some food into me. And of course he is right: three hours post-run instead of lying in bed feeling like I wanted to die, I felt pretty ok this afternoon. And I was genuinely hungry for more food. One thing I have learned about distance running is that my normal eating habits don't apply. Last night at dinner I forced myself to eat until I was tremendously full (another thing I don't like to do), knowing that I was going to run 20 miles first thing this morning. It definitely helps to do that (just as the post-run mac and cheese helps) but I don't like the way it feels...

On the upside, my first 20 mile run ever went pretty well! The first 14 miles felt great, the next 3 felt sort of ok, and the last 3 were rough. But that's to be expected. Now I only have 6.2 more miles to go! Whoo hoo!


Adam said...

Congratulations on the 20-mile run. I remember when I trained for my marathon (ten years ago), I did a lot of runs in the 10 to 15 mile range. When I was time to do the 20-mile run, I was really nervous. I had an irrational fear that I was going to drop dead. That fear actually caused me to do the 20-mile run on a treadmill. I figured that if I collapsed, at least there would be other people at the gym to come to my rescue. I think that doing the run on a treadmill made it seem longer than if I had done it outside in some scenic locale, but when it was over, I felt such a sense of accomplishment. I think that I was even more proud of myself after the 20-miler than I was after the actual marathon.

Teena said...

Thanks! I was nervous too. I had my husband run with me for part of it actually, in case I collapsed! Fortunately his assistance was not needed!