How to Make Mu Shu Pork (a.k.a. Mu Xu Pork, or 木须肉)
If you have ever read any of my recipes before it probably won't surprise you that I'm going to once again start off with a paragraph or two of information you care little or nothing about. I would apologize, but considering you can easily skim over what you don't care to read and therefore aren't inconvenienced by this all that much, my apology would be somewhat less than genuine.
What I must write before moving onto the recipe is a brief word about the title of this dish. You may have noticed that I couldn't just leave it at "How to Make Mu Shu Pork." And despite your first assumptions it wasn't that I was just trying to show off my knowledge of alternate spellings (I admit that I can be vain, but even that's a bit of a stretch for me). It's simply that when I read "Mu Shu" and hear it pronounced that way in my head, it makes me cringe inside. I won't go into a language lesson here, but for those familiar with pinyin (a transliteration of Chinese using our standard romanized alphabet) you know that "shu" and "xu" are not at all interchangeable. And when I hear the former used in place of the latter it does to me what a piano tuned down a quarter step does to a Russian music prodigy. (There are some studies that suggest the effect is similar among prodigies from other countries, but the findings are as yet inconclusive.) So, I felt I had to write "Mu Xu Pork" not for your sakes so much as for my own. Still, I will do my best to practice restraint from here onward and not write "mu xu" in parentheses behind every "mu shu." You are welcome.
Silencing the Critics
The other thing I must say before getting on to the recipe is a word to the critics. Tempting as it is to title every recipe "Authentic Such and Such," I did not do so. Not because I don't think this Mu Shu Pork recipe tastes authentic, but because "Authentic Mu Shu Pork" is about as meaningful as "Authentic Mashed Potatoes." You may have a hundred different varieties of Mu Shu Pork and each one could be just as "authentic" as the other ninety-nine. So, before you protest, "It should have this! ... It mustn't have that!" keep in mind that within the whole of China there may actually be more than one acceptable version of this dish ... as hard as that is to believe. And though my title doesn't make the boast, I'll tell you now, this one is pretty darn authentic.
What you'll need
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup "wood ear" mushrooms (木耳，mù’ěr), reconstituted and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cucumber, cut into 1/8
- ½ lb. pork, cut into thin bite sized pieces
- 1-2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, cut into small “matchsticks
- ½ cup scallions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ - 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 - 1½ Tbsp. Chinese vinegar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2-3 Tbsp. peanut oil -- or whatever you have (you could get away with using less)
You most likely won't find the "wood ear mushrooms" in your local grocery store, but if you have an Asian market nearby they'll be sure to carry them. And if you don't have an Asian market nearby or would rather not get out of your seat, then let Amazon be your friend. (Lest the price per ounce scare you away, understand that 8-12 oz. will last you a long, long time.)
- Before anything else, at least one hour (preferably longer) prior to starting, soak your dried "wood ear" mushrooms in a bowl of water to reconstitute them. You will use about 1 cup of the reconstituted mushrooms (not 1 cup dried). When ready, cut them into bite-sized pieces and remove any hard "knots."
- Add a little salt to your beaten eggs. Scramble in a pan until almost done and then remove.
- After removing the eggs, add 2-3 tablespoons of oil and when hot throw in your ginger. Saute shortly and then add pork. After the pork has just started turning white over most of the surface, pour in ½ - 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
- Saute the pork and ginger in the soy sauce until the pork is nearly done, then add your "wood ear" mushrooms and cucumber, along with the Chinese vinegar and about ½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste).
- When the cucumber have cooked almost to your liking, throw in the garlic. Stir fry just a little while longer until the garlic aroma seems to pervade the dish, then throw the scrambled eggs back in, along with the scallions and stir well.
- Turn off the heat and add a pinch of Magic Savory Goodness (MSG). Yes, this is optional. And no, it won't kill you.