Monday, August 19, 2013

Mu Shiu Pork

We went on a day trip to Tagaytay (a popular destination for rest, recreation, food and fun about 2 hours south of the city) to have some leisure time.  We found these -

fresh wood ear fungus, cloud ears, tree ears or simply black fungus... or in the vernacular - "tenga ng daga" (literally, rat's ears, perhaps in reference to its appearance). 

As a child I knew of this in its dried form, which required rehydration much like the dried shitake mushrooms.  But having discovered the taste of the fresh ones, I've stayed away from the dried version unless I had no choice.  The fresh ones are so crunchy!  And they taste so much better!  (I find the dried ones rather bland and tasteless).  Never mind that the fresh ones are a bit slippery to hold and has a faint off-putting scent...
It has many uses in Chinese cooking and is even believed to have medicinal value particularly in aiding high blood pressure and heart ailments.  It's great in soups, stir-fries, and even as a salad ingredient!  My favorite?  Pork rib soup with lots and lots of this wood ear fungus!

But today's kitchen adventure is for a dish that I first heard while watching an episode of an American sitcom.  The scene was generally dinner where the characters were eating Chinese take-out, specifically Mu Shiu Pork.  At that time, I didn't know what it was; I only "discovered" what it was when I read about it in an American-Chinese cookbook.

At the time, I thought the recipe was very familiar, except for the cornstarch bit.  In fact, we'd been enjoying that dish all throughout my childhood, except that I knew it as "sliced pork with black fungus", and I'd even cooked it for hubby several times.

This time, however, I decided to follow (more or less, that is) the recipe I found in an American-Chinese cookbook in my collection. 

The cast of characters (oops, I forgot to photograph the eggs) -

The main difference in my "old" version and the cookbook version was the addition of cornstarch in the marinade.

The recipe (with my personal notes/changes) -

500 grams tenderloin, sliced into matchsticks
(I used very lean pork belly (fat trimmed), sliced thinly (but not matchsticks)
2 tablespoons shao xhing wine
2 tablespoons light soya sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
pinch each salt and pepper

4 slices of ginger
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 stalks of spring onions, sliced thinly, white and green parts separated

100 grams fresh wood ear fungus, sliced into strips
100 grams fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced into strips
20 grams banana blossoms, ends trimmed (or lily bulbs)
1 tablespoon light soya sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix the pork strips with soy sauce and xiao xhing wine.  Sprinkle cornstarch over pork and mix well.  Marinate about 20 to 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, beat eggs with sesame oil, salt and pepper.

Cook the eggs scrambled style; remove from the pan and break up into small pieces.

Saute 2 pieces of ginger in oil (quite a lot, enough to shallow fry the pork, about 1/3 cup or so, depending on the size of the pan).  Add the pork and shallow fry, stirring to break apart the pork pieces.  Cook over high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, about halfway done.  Remove pork from the pan.  Reduce oil, if desired.

Saute remaining ginger, onion, white part of the spring onion and garlic.  When fragrant, add the wood ear fungus, shitake and banana blossoms.  Season with soya sauce, salt and pepper, to taste.  Return the pork to the pan and stir fry until pork is fully cooked.  Adjust seasonings, if needed, according to taste.  Add in the scrambled eggs and stir to mix.  Move to a serving plate and top with green part of the spring onion.

Personally I like this dish as a rice topping but hubby prefers a wrap.

Hubby's lunch - Mu Shiu Pork "Wrap"

How he made his wrap -

Hoisin sauce on half the soft tortilla and on the other half, roasted chili sauce.  Pile on the mu shiu pork and fold, or roll!

Another way to serve is to wrap some mu shiu pork in cabbage leaves, roll the cabbage into a roll and steam.  Or wrap the mu shiu pork in fresh lettuce leaves and munch away!

Yum, yum, yum!

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