Inspiring Foods: The History of Moo Shu
Last week I decided to be adventurous and try a new dish at Windchimes. I searched through the menu as my mouth watered at all the delicious sounding food when I finally found what i wanted. I wanted the Moo Shu Chicken.
This stir fried dish served with your choice of meat with cabbage, bamboo shoots, carrots and egg in a plum sauce sounded really good. Though there was an interesting element that caught my attention and was the reason i wanted to try this dish out. It came with a pancake?! What did that mean? I had to try it and I was not disappointed.
Afterward I was curious about how this dish was created since a lot of the Chinese food comes from different regions that specialize in their own flavors or types of food. This dish comes from the northern Chinese origin originating from Shandong, a coastal province and appearing in the United States in the late 1960s. Typically the Moo Shu dish is created with pork tenderloin, cucumber, and scrambled eggs, stir fried in sesame or peanut oil together with mushrooms and minced ginger and garlic. As this dish grew popularity in the United States the chefs had to start to modify the recipe to use ingredients that are easier and more available in the states. This is why they started to use green cabbage, carrots, scallions and bean sprouts a lot more in the dish. Like most dishes that are popular there are a lot of different variations of them from restaurant to restaurant adding their own flavor and twist on it.
My favorite adaptation in the pancake that is served with the dish. The pancake is a white tortilla-like wrapper made of flour and is used to hold all of the contents of the dish. It's basically eaten like a taco and there are even some Chinese restaurants that began serving Mexican style flour tortillas with the dish. I love the way that food has come to grow and adapt to their surroundings and the culture around them that is different then their own. It really illustrates the beauty of America and how we are a melting pot of so many different cultures.