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 b
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...
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...