tofu mu shu

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A friend of mine once, oh-so-innocently, asked me if I had any recipes with napa cabbage. Poor guy. You have to be careful talking to me about food, because I can go on forever. I sent him longwinded comments about a bunch of recipes. I also sent a recipe for tofu mu shu, which I overcomplicated by providing two versions, one a super-anal-Bridget-version and the other simpler. Of course I had only made the super anal one. Of course.

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Mu shu is stir-fry wrapped in a thin bread-like shell. The first several times I made it with pork using Jen’s recipe, which is quite delicious. I did want a vegetarian version though, as we tend to save meat for special occasions (you know, like weekends). I haven’t been able to find the dried tofu cakes that Jen recommends substituting for the pork.

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I’ve had good results from pressing firm tofu, marinating it briefly in soy sauce, and sautéing it in a very hot pan. Tofu prepared this way was excellent in mu shu, so it was included in my super-anal-Bridget-version.

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The other difference between my two recipes is the shape of the chopped ingredients. Jen has exceptional knife skills, and her prepped ingredients for mu shu are beautifully julienned. Frankly, it takes me forever to do. Jen also cooks the eggs as one sheet, then removes it from the pan and cuts it into strips, which is far more attractive than clumpy scrambled eggs.

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But are crisped tofu, julienned vegetables, and eggs cut into strips worth the extra time? I made my easy version first, with unbrowned tofu, scrambled eggs, and coarsely chopped vegetables. Two days later, I made the other version, sautéing the tofu, cooking the eggs as a sheet, and julienning the vegetables.

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Dave and I didn’t notice a difference in flavor in the finished product. The easy version probably took me about 15 minutes less time. With pre-made mu shu pancakes, that makes this a pretty reasonable weeknight meal.

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One consideration is that the more work-intensive method is more attractive, as the ingredients are all approximately the same shape. That could be an important consideration if you’re serving this to guests. I, for one, am happy to have a simpler version of this, so I can eat it that much more often.

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One year ago: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Mu Shu Tofu (adapted from Use Real Butter)

Start to press the tofu before preparing the remaining ingredients.

Serves 6

1 (12-ounce package) firm or extra-firm tofu
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 teaspoons canola oil
3 eggs, beaten
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into strips
3 cloves garlic, minced or julienned
1 medium head napa cabbage, halved and shredded
2 cups bean sprouts
4 green onions, sliced
1 can bamboo shoots, roughly chopped
12 mu shu shells
hoisin sauce

1. Cut tofu in half horizontally to make two flat rectangles. Layer it between double layers of paper towels or clean dish towels. Put all of that in a pie plate and put something heavy on top, maybe another pie plate with some cans in it or something. Set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Cut the tofu into strips and add it to liquid ingredients; stir gently.

3. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are softened (2-3 minutes), add the garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds. Add the cabbage and bean sprouts. Sauté until the cabbage is wilted but still a little crunchy, 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and the tofu mixture. Cook and stir until evenly heated.

4. Heat the mu shu shells according to the instructions on the package. Serve each mu shu shell with a smear of hoisin sauce down the middle. Place several spoonfuls of mu shu on the shell and fold the sides in.

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Comments

  1. Hey, not bad for a five-day post. Hee hee. Anyway, back when I thought Rachael Ray was okay, I was watching an episode of thirty-minute meals where she was trying to coax a friend out of take-out so they were making mu shu pork, but since she “forgot the ginger” or something, and was going to add sugar anyway, she instead added some crushed gingersnaps to the mix. Comments? ;)
    Anyway, I do NOT know why I’ve never done this before. It looks like the kind of quick, healthy, delicious meal I would love. Probably the wrapper thing (never seen them here), but now thanks to you I have the recipe! Yay!

  2. bridget says:

    Manggy – I haven’t been able to find the wrappers either, because I can’t find an Asian grocery near me. Making them myself adds 20 minutes or so to this meal, making it a little much for a weeknight, unfortunately.

  3. wow! i just made sesame tofu (for me) and chicken (for my hubby). i wish i was better at making tofu. yours looks amazing!

  4. This looks absolutely beautiful. I wish I had a roll of this :-(

  5. Such a fantastic recipe!! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I love mu shu. Thanks for sharing Bridget (and Jen)!

  7. This looks wonderful and it is definitely something I would make. Looks delicious.

  8. It looks so flavorful – I really like tofu! I’m the same way with food topics :)

  9. Those mu shu wraps look really good. I like the use of the fried tofu!

  10. It’s commendable that you press and fry your own tofu because I have zippo patience for that. Sometimes if I don’t have dried tofu on hand and I don’t want to deal with the whole meat issue, I just make it all veg (well, with egg). So glad you’re enjoying it.

  11. veronica says:

    This sounds really yummy, but I think it would also work relly well using frozen tofu. After purchasing the extra firm tofu, put the container in the freezer, and then a couple of days later, thaw it. It radically changes the texture, making it chewier and more accepting of sauces.

  12. bridget says:

    Veronica – I’m never heard of that! I’m intrigued.

  13. I just made this tonight and it was incredible! Plus there’s enough left over for dinner tomorrow. Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

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