Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vietnamese-Style Moo Shu Chive Pancakes (mù xū bǐng) with Turkey

Vietnamese food is all about the five senses: the visual explosion of colors in green basil and red chilies, the crunching sound of fresh carrots and bean sprouts, aromatic mint and fish sauces, the variety of textures for mouthfeel, and... oh yeah, taste is pretty important, too.  In fact, Vietnamese dishes rarely leave out any part of the tongue with spicy/sweet/tangy mixed with bitter herbs and salty condiments... commence Homer Simpson drool... NOW.

It seemed a natural progression for leftover turkey or any roast fowl (I used chicken, duck would probably be fantastic if I'd had some... doh!).  Turkey not being the most flavorful of meats on it's own, the kick of some cilantro and ginger sounded pretty good.  Since the leftover meat is easiest to remove from the carcass in shreds, I also thought some moo shu would work, and that would mean pancakes.  I didn't have the ingredients on hand to make Vietnamese pancakes like bánh xèo, which require rice flour and coconut water.  Therefore, I decided I'd have to go rogue and mix some Chinese moo shu pancakes (mù xū bǐng).  

I know technically this dish is a "fusion" dish, but I'm not a fan of this term, mainly because I see it over-used by restaurateurs looking to up the hip-o-meter in their menu.  I am not hip - I don't own an iPod since my last one was stolen over a year ago and I don't even miss it, I don't wear jeans that cost more than $40, and I don't get my hair cut into a style named after a celebrity.  Therefore, I feel as ill-suited to the term "fusion" as I do to, say, diet pills or Red Bull/vodkas.

So okay, the "fusion" part will stay in sarcastic little quotes, if that's okay with you guys.  Now, about these pancakes.  I found the basic recipe from Emeril Lagasse and I must not've read thru it properly the first time because I didn't realize I was essentially making pastry dough pancakes.  If I'd known that before making them, I probably would've closed the page and looked for something else to make.  Why?  Because I'm afraid of pastry dough.  Everyone makes it sound like some huge ordeal of rolling and buttering and layering... as someone who cooks way more than bakes, I just imagined myself collapsing in a tearful mess about halfway through - covered in flour with bits of dough mashed into my hair.  I'm wearing a chef's hat in this dream sequence, and it's slumped in defeat, too...

I'm glad I didn't read the recipe through properly as it turns out.  By the time I got to the layering part, I was having too much fun to care.  Yes, again this might be because I am not hip, and therefore have fun doing not-hip things like rolling dough on a Friday night, but who cares?  I was giddy with the realization that this was far from "work"; I was humming and I rolling out little disks, brushing them with sesame oil, and sticking some chives in between the layers... then a little sizzle on the griddle pan and there they were!

Pastry dough, watch out, cause I'm coming for you next...

Recipe: Vietnamese-style moo shu turkey and pancakes

What you need for the chive pancakes*...

1 1/2 cups flour (plus a little extra for rolling)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup boiling water
2 - 3 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons sesame oil
A few sprigs of fresh chive, chopped coarsely

*makes 12 pancakes

What to scrounge around for for the filling...

2 cups of shredded, cooked poultry (leftover turkey, chicken, duck, etc)
1 cup each of shredded veggies (carrots, corn, cabbage, mushrooms)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup of onions, scallions, etc
3 cloves of garlic
Nob of fresh grated ginger or 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered
A few dashes of fish sauce
Equal parts soy sauce and brown sugar (dissolve brown sugar in soy sauce), amount to your taste and quantity of other ingredients
Sesame oil for cooking
Salt & pepper

What you need for the garlic/chili sauce...

2 parts red chili sauce (such as sambal oelek or sriracha )
1 part sesame oil
Crushed garlic and fresh ginger (to taste)

What you need for other accompaniments...

A handful each of fresh mint, Thai basil (or sweet), and cilantro (any or all)
Fresh bean sprouts (optional)
Shredded carrots (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)
Crushed peanuts (optional)

How to make moo shu pancakes...

Combine flour, salt, and boiling water in a medium bowl, stirring with a heat-proof spoon (whisks get gummy, not recommended).  Add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and stir until you have a slightly sticky dough (you may find you need less than 3 tablespoons for this).  Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth (see figs. 1 and 2).  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide your dough in half, roll each half into a ball and divide each into sixths (see fig. 3).  You should have 12 pieces (fig. 4).  Roll each piece into a ball.  Using a rolling pin on a lightly-floured surface, roll out each ball into a 2-inch disc (see background of fig. 5).  Stack discs in pairs, brushing some sesame oil and sprinkling a few chopped chives in between the 2 discs.  Roll out your disc "sandwiches" into 7 - 8 inch pancakes (foreground of fig. 5).  Heat a heavy skillet or griddle, brush lightly with sesame oil, and add pancakes one at a time.  Cook on both sides until blistered but not browned (fig. 6).  There will be several air pockets.  Set aside finished pancakes, covered to keep warm.

What to do for the filling...

In a wok or medium skillet, heat some sesame oil and add any uncooked vegetables and onions, adding those with longer cooking times first.  Cook until tender but still crisp.  Add your cooked shredded meat, any cooked veggies, plus ginger, garlic, soy/brown sugar, fish sauce and salt/pepper to taste.  Add your beaten egg and and toss/stir.  Heat until everything is heated thoroughly and egg is cooked (shouldn't be more than a couple minutes)

How to serve...

Combine all the ingredients for the chili/garlic sauce.  Serve along side the other accompaniments and pancakes.  Everyone can grab pancakes, add hot turkey filling, accompaniments, and a little sauce.  ENJOY!

Please vote for this recipe in the Foodista Best of Blogs Cookbook Contest!


  1. I love it! The photos and the concept are brilliant! BRAVO.

  2. This looks like a lot of fun to make and eat!

  3. Sounds delish, I would have liked to be invited to join in with this meal LOL

  4. so ive been on an italian cuisine for almost a year now and although there are no complaints i really miss other foods.

    living in LA there was always such a variety.

    you made my tummy grumble

    looks so stinkin good!!

  5. looks like and sounds delicious - great job and I know it taste ever so good too!

  6. I love this scrumptious version of moo shu pancakes! Can't wait to try!

  7. I really like the way you write! Especially the bits about not being hip (because I am totally the same way - including doing non-hip things like rolling dough on a Friday night!)

    Since you are afraid of pastry dough, you should totally read my latest blog post - it's a tutorial on pastry dough and how to stop fearing it. It will ease your fears and turn you into an un-hip pastry goddess.

    ps: gorgeous crisp photos!

  8. Instead of fusion, how about "intermingling" or "melange"?

    And have you heard? It's hip to be not hip...although, that kind of ruins the term. Oh well.

    In any case, you had me at that part about food engaging the 5 senses - awesome "melange" dish :)

  9. LOL.! Not bad, your chinese is good!! I guess you did your homework before making these. Hahaha :D Nice work.

  10. Ok. This is my first visit to your site and I am in love. I am know a FANATIC for Peas and Carrots.
    You are extemely talented!

  11. for some reason, your pictures is stunning!!

  12. Congrats on being #1 in the Top 9!!!
    :D :D :D Yayyyyy!

  13. Looks delicious! I'm all about Vietnamese cuisine. Or even "fusion" cuisine!

  14. Can't agree more about "fusion."

    ALL cuisine is fusion cuisine, since there's no way to find the original, uninfluenced, recipes for anything -- and the most interesting foods are those that reflect the most interaction between different cultures. Places that have been invaded, colonized, or traded the most invariably have the best foods as a result of those interactions.

  15. I LOVE me some moo shu. This looks wonderful!

  16. @Debs - If I could send food via email, I WOULD! :)

    @Gina - While I can't exactly feel sorry for you in Italy ;), I know what you mean about variety - and LA is such a good eating town for Japanese, etc....mmmm, sushi... Now my tummy is grumbly, too...

    @Shelly of experimental - You're right: Hip so isn't anymore... Geeks rule! :D

    @Dolly - Thanks! Wish I could take the credit, but yes, I did my research, you're right! My boyfriend proofread the pinyin for me, as he speaks some Mandarin :)

    @Erika - I successfully made your recipe and it's sitting in my fridge right now filled with tomatoes and caramel and onions... mmm... Thanks so much!!

    @Gary - You know, that's so true! Vietnamese cuisine is such a good example of that, too, with French/Chinese influences...

    Thanks to all!

  17. Welcome to the "not hip" club! I love staying in on a Saturday night to cook. So much better than going "woo hoo!" at a bar whenever they play a Britney Spears song. BTW, LOVE your blog. Such great information and wonderful pictures :)

  18. Haha, Dhale, you're awesome... I agree, somehow the "woo hoo" has lost it's "hoo" (I'm so lame), and Britney can't compete with char sui bao (or even cheesefries). :D

  19. That is some dedication to the art of delicious. You MADE your own pancakes? I am beyond impressed!

    I wish I could convince Mr. Other P to stay in and cook. I have this weekend off, and I think he wants to go dancing on Friday. I only ever dance in the kitchen anymore. Badly.

    Heaven help us both.

  20. I don't even eat turkey and this looks amazing. Yum!

  21. Looks great! I looooovvve Vietnamese food. It's so flavorful yet so light. I don't know how they do it.

  22. After Thanksgiving foods last week, this is exactly what I am craving right now. I have a great tortilla press that I can use to short cut the rolling part :)

  23. Enjoyed your post and your sense of humor about "fusion" and pastry dough! So now for sure you gotta come join us on The Daring Bakers! =)

    Thx for your comment on my blog. I look forward to reading what Daring Cooks are up to and how you like it!

  24. @Mr. P - You've got to do a rotation - some nights dancing, some nights cooking! If only there were a way to merge these two... and don't you know? Bad dancing is as hip as being un-hip now. Napoleon Dynamite style.

    @Table Talk - a tortilla press? I'm going over to your blog now to see if you have pics of this contraption. If you don't, I will wait patiently until they appear. :D

    @TeenieCakes - Thanks so much, I will definitely let you know how it goes, we'll have to trade stories!

  25. That all looks delicious! I'm going to try that this weekend. YUM!

    b X

  26. Excellent photos and very entertaining post! Your Friday nights sound just like mine. I'm heading to cast my vote right now.

  27. Wow, once again I am SO impressed!!!

  28. Mu Shu is one of my all time fav oriental dishes and this one really looks great too!

  29. voted with a 5 star of course!!!

  30. voted and I not only enjoyed your post (don't be afraid of pastry dough) but I totally agree about Vietnamese food tickling the 5 senses. again, great post and I hope you win!

  31. I haven't had post, i have not had moo shu in awhile and now I'm craving duck moo shu...

  32. Pancakes look amazing! So agree about having fun with non-hip things. I guess I am indeed unhip, but in a way that is way cooler than being hip. :)

  33. definitely a good use for leftover turkey!

  34. This recipe is genius. Your photos are awesome.


Thanks for commenting - I'm always happy to hear from you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails