It’s Monday, so I figure I should start out the week in a healthy way. Kind of. This recipe does involve tofu and veggies. But also fried mu shu pancakes. So, I’ll let you decide if you want to call it healthy or not. But it most definitely is delicious. I know I say this every time I use tofu, but even if you’re a carnivore (like I very much am), there are still some amazing things you can do with tofu. While I love a nice juicy steak (and bacon and pork chops and chicken), I actually sometimes crave tofu. Don’t be afraid of it. And after a particularly wonderful food-filled weekend, it might be just what I need on this Monday.
On Saturday, my fabulous friend, Kyle, surprised her husband for his birthday by staging an episode of Chopped in their kitchen. It was, in a word, awesome. She asked Jeff’s foodie friend, Matt, to be a contestant and me, Chris, and Matt’s girlfriend Nora posed as judges. Kyle put together 3 different baskets for the appetizer, entree, and dessert portion of the show and Jeff and Matt had a time limit to whip up their own dishes. I was incredibly impressed with the concoctions they ended up with, especially considering they had never cooked with some of the ingredients, like alligator and calf’s liver! Talk about carnivoring it up, right? Anyway, Kyle’s idea was basically the best ever and she pulled it off without a hitch. I think Jeff was pretty happy with the whole event, though his birthday consisted of him cooking us dinner. Oops Oh, and we got it all on video, but it could take quite a while to edit (3 cameras for a total of about 4 hours of footage).
So yes, my weekend was amazing. How was yours?
Chris and I have been ordering lots of our groceries on Peapod occasionally since well, we’ve been busy and a little lazy. And when you first join, you get 60 days of free delivery. So, why not? Except for the fact that they don’t carry everything… like mu shu pancakes. So, instead of schlepping the 5 minute walk to the grocery store, I decided I’d make my own.
Mu Shu Pancakes:
Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles
• 1 3/4 C unbleached flour
• Pinch of salt
• 3/4 C boiling water
• 1 T toasted sesame oil
My first attempt at mu shu pancakes was far from perfect, but they still worked. This recipe is definitely a practice makes perfect recipe and I’ll likely try them again sometime soon to see if my second attempt is better. It’s really no big deal if you want to buy the shells, though I’m sure nothing compares to making them on your own! But it definitely adds a lot of time and some difficulty to this recipe, so just keep that in mind.
Here we go. Using a wooden spoon, mix the flour, salt, and boiling water in a bowl to combine. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 3 minutes, until smooth. Put the dough back in a bowl, cover with a towel, and let it rest for about 30 mins.
Now, shape the dough into an even cylinder about 12 inches long. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 12 1-inch pieces.
Lightly flour your palms and use them to flatten the pieces into 2-inch rounds. Brush the top of each round with sesame oil and lay one round on top of another, with the oiled sides together.
Flatten the pair together with your hand. Continue until you have 6 pairs.
On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll each pair into a thin pancake, about 7 inches in diameter. Keep flipping the dough over and rolling it to make sure the pancake is even.
Stack the pancakes as you flatten them.
Put an un-greased skillet over medium-high heat and cook the pancakes one at a time. You’ll have to watch the pancakes very closely! Heat on one side for about a minute, until it becomes less opaque, starts to bubble slightly, and a few brown spots appear.
Then flip it over and cook for another 30 seconds, until a few more brown spots appear.
And NOW for the really difficult part (I know). Right when the pancake is done cooking, pick it up, look for a seam, and pull apart to separate into two very thin pancakes. This was pretty tough because a) you just spent time rolling the 2 pieces of dough together and frying them, so finding a seam to pull apart wasn’t easy and b) the pancakes are HOT. And hurt your hands as you pull them apart.
I ended up pulling all of them apart, with a few tears (as in rips, not crying tears) here and there.
My pancakes were a little crispier than they should have been (I think), so next time I might try cooking them for a little less time.
Wrap the pancakes in foil to keep warm while you work on the filling.
OK, now you’re done with the tough part! So, um, if you bought your pancakes to begin with, this whole thing should be super easy for you!
Mu Shu Tofu:
Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles
• 1 (12-ounce package) firm or extra-firm tofu
• 3 T soy sauce
• 1 T toasted sesame oil
• 2 t cornstarch
• 3 t canola oil
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 8 oz. shittake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into strips
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 medium head napa cabbage, halved and shredded
• 2 C bean sprouts
• 4 green onions, sliced
• Hoisin sauce
• 12 mu shu pancakes
Start by cutting the tofu in half horizontally to make two flat rectangles. Layer it between double layers of paper towels and place on a plate with something heavy over it, like another plate or cans. Let the tofu drain for a little while.
Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl.
Cut the tofu into strips or cubes and add to the liquid mixture and stir together. Set aside.
Now, heat 2 teaspoons of canola oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. After 2-3 minutes, mushrooms should be softened and you can add the garlic. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add eggs and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until scrambled, about 20 seconds. Add cabbage, bean sprouts, and tofu and saute until cabbage is wilted, but still a bit crunchy, 3-4 minutes. Make sure the tofu is warmed through!
Add the green onions.
Now, get out your beautifully-made pancakes. Eeek.
Smear some hoisin sauce down the middle and put a few spoonfuls of mu shu on the pancake.
You can add more hoisin sauce, too, if you want. Which I do want because I LOVE hoisin.
OK, so I admit this isn’t the prettiest meal ever (or close to it) as the colors are all pretty bland and it’s basically a big mu shu mish mash of ingredients. But taste is what counts, right?
I was a big fan of this dinner as the marinated tofu had tons of flavor packed in and the cabbage and sprouts gave the mixture a lovely crunch. Plus, there was the hoisin. You can wrap your pancake up and eat it like a burrito, too.
Hooray for another fun tofu meal!
Are you a fan of tofu? What’s your favorite way to cook it or dish to add it to?
The rest of my weekend, was spent doing a little baking, doing lots of laundry, and sitting on the couch reading through my collection of wedding magazines:
As a self-proclaimed magazine fiend (I have a legitimate magazine problem), I’m loving that I can now collect wedding mags. Of course, many of them say the same exact thing, but I have gotten some pretty fabulous ideas from them so far, especially from Martha Stewart Weddings! In case you’re wondering, Chris and I are getting pretty close to reaching a decision on where we’ll be having our wedding! Thank goodness, because then I feel like the fun can really start!
Are you a magazine fiend? Do you have a favorite?