Sunday, January 12, 2014

Moo Shu Vegetables and Pancakes, Part One

Sometimes I forget how California I truly am. My extended family hails from Massachusetts and New York, I spent my college and grad school years in Chicago and Boston, and I have a traditional Irish Catholic name, so I somehow thought this made me less of a Left Coaster. But then, something will happen to remind me where I come from. On a date once, in the middle of a conversation on poetry and augury, I pulled out my tarot cards, and was told, “You’re so California right now.” Upon leaving happy hour early last Friday, my colleagues asked where I was going, and I told them I had to get home because I was attending an all day Women’s Bliss Circle in the morning. My utterance was greeted with some silence and some laughter. I got the same response when I told a friend that before we were able to drive, my best friend and I used to get Chinese food delivered to school, so we wouldn’t have to eat the cafeteria food.

My dish of choice was always moo shu. Chicken, pork, or vegetarian, it didn’t matter. What I loved were the paper-thin pancakes, slightly sweet hoisin sauce, and the still crisp cabbage. It was one of the first foods I remember being truly satisfied with when I became vegan. The meat is not the star of moo shu, and the egg is unremarkable, so this dish lends itself well to a plant-based diet. I could have easily made my own moo shu, but the pancakes seemed well out of my abilities as a cook. Happily, Chloe Coscarelli’s first book includes a recipe for moo shu AND pancakes. As with many things, there’s no substitute for the homemade, hand-rolled version, so do yourself a mitzvah, and make these for dinner this week!

Moo Shu Pancakes
adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the boiling water, and mix with a wooden spoon. Once cooled, knead for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface. Form into a ball, and let sit covered for 20 minutes.

Roll dough into a 16 inch log, and slice into 1 inch pieces. One at a time, flatten each piece of dough with your hand, and then roll into a 6 inch circle. The dough will be quite sticky so have plenty of flour at hand.

Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high heat. Cook each pancake individually; flip over once they have browned slightly, 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Stack pancakes and set aside.*

*Here is Chloe’s genius trick for keeping the pancakes warm: fill a small saucepan half-full with water, and bring to a simmer. Place a large heatproof plate on top of the saucepan. Stack the pancakes on the plate, and cover with a metal bowl.

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