Mu Shu Pork Sous-Vide

This recipe is posted exactly 9 years after I posted for the first time on this blog. Over 3 million views and 1,400 blog posts later, of which more than 1,200 recipes, I am still blogging regularly (although not as frequently as in the early days). Through blogging I have discovered many new recipes and cuisines, and made friends. Most of the food bloggers I interacted with in my early days of food blogging have stopped, but some are still going strong. And so it is appropriate that today I’m posting my take on one of Chef Mimi’s recipes. She has been blogging for 8 years and we’ve been in contact ever since — she has posted over 500 comments on my blog. We’ve even had the pleasure to meet in real life. Like me, Mimi prepares dishes from scratch and enjoys a great variety of cuisines. Her recipe for Mu Shu pork appealed to me, because it looked delicious and I had never heard of it before.

This is probably because Mu Shu pork (also written as moo shu, moo shi, mu shu, or mu xu) is part of American Chinese cuisine, although it does have northern Chinese roots. According to Wikipedia, the dish first appeared on restaurant menus in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 1966. There are many versions of the dish. Mimi chose a recipe from the Shun Lee Cookbook written by Michael Tong, published in 2007. It is stir-fried strips of pork with napa cabbage, tree ear mushrooms, dried lily buds, bamboo shoots, and scallions, wrapped in mandarin pancakes with hoisin sauce. Dried tree ear mushrooms and dried lily buds were ingredients that I had never tried before, so that made it all the more exciting to try this new recipe.

The only change I made was to cook the pork sous vide. Many recipes for mu shu pork call for pork tenderloin, which is very tender, but dries out easily and doesn’t have a lot of flavor. I used pork neck (pork butt, pork shoulder) instead, and cooked it sous-vide for 48 hours at 57C/135F so it would be tender and pink as pork tenderloin, but more juicy and flavorful. Another advantage of this method is that you can add the tasty pork juices that will end up in the bag to the sauce. Mimi also used pork butt and used it raw, which will be tender enough if you slice it thinly against the grain.

If the meat has NOT been cooked sous-vide, the recipe tells you to mix the corn starch with half of a beaten egg white and coat the pork with this before stir frying.

However, if you’ve cooked the meat sous-vide that will become a disaster, because the egg white won’t stick to the meat. So if the meat has been cooked sous-vide, it is best to omit this step. It is not required to preserve the juiciness of the meat anyway, as the sous vide cooking has already taken care of that. The photo above tells you that I found this out the hard way, the first time I prepared this dish.

Ingredients

For 2 or 3 servings

300 grams (.66 lb) boneless pork butt (pork shouder, pork neck)

2 eggs

salt

1/2 Tbsp corn starch

vegetable oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp shao hsing rice wine

1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil

225 grams (1/2 lb) napa cabbage, in strips

15 grams (1/2 oz) dried lily buds, soaked in hot water until softened

15 grams (1/2 oz) dried tree ears, soaked in hot water until softened

30 grams (1 oz) thinly sliced bamboo shoots

3 scallions (green onions), green part only, sliced thinly

8 or 9 mandarin pancakes (8 for 2 servings of 4, 9 for 3 servings of 3)

hoisin sauce, for serving

Instructions

Season the pork with salt and vacuum seal.

Heat water to at least 77C/170F (boiling is fine).

Scald the pork in the hot water for 10-20 seconds or until the raw color has disappeared. This step is required to prevent an unpleasant smell with long sous vide cooks at a low temperature; more about that here.

Cook the pork sous-vide for 48 hours at 57C/135F. Then chill the pork in cold water with ice cubes and refrigerate until needed.

Prepare all the ingredients: beat the eggs, cut the pork into strips of approximately 5 cm long and 0.5 cm thick and wide (2 inches long, 1/4″ thick and wide), cut the napa cabbage into similar strips, soak the tree ears in hot water until softened and tear them into pieces, soak the lily buds in hot water and cut them in half, chop the bamboo shoots into a similar size as the pork, slice the green onions, and mix the juices from the sous-vide bag with 1 tablespoon rice wine, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1/2 Tbsp corn starch, and mix well.

As always with stir frying dishes, you need to prepare all the ingredients beforehand and have them ready, because you’ll have to work quickly once you get going.

Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil in a wok. Add the pork…

…and stir fry about 1 minute or until it starts to become golden. Remember the pork has already been cooked sous-vide, so this step is only needed to add some Maillard flavor.

Take the pork out of the wok and allow any excess oil to drain away. Discard excess oil from the wok so only about 2 tablespoons of oil are left.

Add the beaten egg, and stir fry until almost cooked.

Transfer the egg to a plate and shred with a spatula.

Now add the napa cabbage to the wok, and stir fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the bamboo shoots, lily buds, and tree ears, and stir fry for another couple of minutes.

Add the sauce mixture and stir fry until everything is coated with the sauce.

Add the green onions…

…and the pork.

Stir fry for a minute to allow the pork to heat through.

Add the egg and stir fry just long enough to mix it with the rest.

Turn off the heat.

Reheat the pancakes in the microwave or with a steamer.

To serve, start with some hoisin sauce on the pancake.

Add 1/8 or 1/9 of the filling…

…and roll it up like a taco.

Flashback

This pumpkin, pear, and blue cheese pie is perfect for this time of the year.

6 thoughts on “Mu Shu Pork Sous-Vide

  1. Congratulations ! How time has flown as I also seem to have begun wandering around foodie sites at around the same time . . . yours has always been a delight and a learning experience 🙂 ! Am aware how busy your life has become but, please, do look ‘our way’ as oft as you can ! Mu shu pork does somehow ‘belong’ more to the States than the way we usually prepare Chinese pork dishes here . . . but very interesting to read . . . best for the next nine years . . . be well . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks like a very flavourful dish, and a great addition to my pork repertoire. As you know I don’t have sous vide so I’ll check out Mimi’s version. We have met so many lovely people through blogging, including you and Kees all over the world (I’m going on 13 years if you count my original renovation blog, The Big Reno blog). Once we can travel again, we will plan to reconnect and meet new bloggers.
    Hope you and Kees are well, we’re in a second lockdown and although we have updated our outdoor space to a warm and cozy space, with heaters and electric blankets, it’s sitting under 15 cm of snow.

    Liked by 1 person

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