Moo Shu Pork is a quick stir-fry combining tender pork slices, scrambled eggs, earthy mushrooms and refreshing vegetables. Today’s recipe shows you how it’s prepared in the authentic Chinese way. A video tutorial is included.
What does original Chinese Moo Shu Pork look like?
If you’re a regular consumer of Moo Shu Pork at Chinese restaurants, takeaways (take-out) outside China, you might find today’s recipe a little unexpected. I felt the same way when I saw some of the online recipes of this dish. The composition of ingredients and the seasoning are so different from the Moo Shu Pork that I enjoyed growing up in China.
Food evolves all the time. It’s natural that classic dishes pick up new flavours and welcome new ingredients along the way. I’m not here to judge which version of Moo Shu Pork tastes better. But it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to how my dad, like many home cooks in northern China, would present this signature dish of Shandong Cuisine (Lǔ Cài, 鲁菜) to his family.
The name Moo Shu (Mù Xī/木樨 in Chinese), which originally refers to sweet osmanthus, is used to describe small pieces of scrambled egg as they resemble the tiny yellow flowers of sweet osmanthus trees. So obviously, the two main ingredients of Moo Shu Pork have to be egg and pork. Wood ear mushroom, lily buds and cucumber are added for extra colour, flavour, texture and nutrition.
What do you need for Moo Shu Pork?
Choose tender pork cut
Unlike many Chinese stir-fried meat dishes, such as Black Pepper Beef, the pork in authentic Moo Shu Pork usually isn’t marinated (I just mix it with a little Shaoxing rice wine). So tender cuts of pork are recommended.
I use pork tenderloin and cut it into slices. If it’s challenging for you to cut it thin, I suggest you put the pork piece in the freezer for 1-2 hours until semi-frozen. Then you’ll find it much easier to slice.
If you’re using other cuts of pork, it’s better to marinate it with a mixture of water and starch to tenderise, just like how I do it for Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce.
Scrambled egg is essential
I was very surprised to discover that there isn’t any egg in some American-style Moo Shu Pork . As I explained earlier, egg is essential to the original version of this dish. It’s just as important as the pork. For two servings, you may use either 3 small/medium-sized eggs or 2 large ones.
Add wood ear mushroom & lily buds
The traditional recipe also calls for wood ear mushroom and lily buds, two ingredients that usually come in dried form. Perhaps unfamiliar to many, they are in fact common pantry items in Chinese households. For example, you can find both of them in the famous Hot & Sour Soup.
Known as Mu Er/木耳 in Chinese, wood ear mushroom is a type of edible fungus which grows on tree trunks and resembles ears in shape. Although it doesn’t have a strong taste, its crunchy texture is much appreciated. You can find it in Chinese stores on the shelves for dried ingredients.
Before cooking, you need to soak it in warm water for about 10 minutes until it returns to its original size (much bigger then dried ones). Then give it a quick rinse and tear it into smaller pieces if necessary.
Lily buds, named Huang Hua/黄花 in Chinese, are unopened flowers of the daylily plant. Dried lily buds resemble straws, have a brownish colour and a woody, earthy taste. Rehydrate them in warm water for 30 minutes until they become soft and lighter in colour. If you have difficulty sourcing it, use bamboo shoots as a substitute or skip it altogether.
Use cucumber or another vegetable
For fresh vegetables in this dish, cucumber is the most common choice. Have you tasted cooked cucumber (the flavour changes after cooking)? If not, give it a try! Other vegetables, such as spinach, carrot, pak choy, or celtuce, are good substitutes.
You may slice the cucumber any way you wish, or try my method: cut it diagonally into chunks. Then slice the chunk (cut-side down) into thin pieces.
Keep the seasoning light & simple
The seasoning for original Moo Shu Pork is incredibly simple: light soy sauce, salt and a pinch of white pepper. That’s all! The simplicity helps you to appreciate the natural, individual taste of the main ingredients. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy this dish so much.
How to cook Moo Shu Pork step by step?
Moo Shu Pork is a very simple stir-fry dish to make. To achieve the optimal result both in taste and texture, you need to follow an important rule: cook egg, pork and vegetables separately then combine everything in the end. Here is how I cook it step by step (a tutorial video is included in the recipe card below):
Step 1: Scramble the egg
The cooking method is the same as what applies to the classic Chinese Tomato & Egg Stir-fry and Singapore Rice Noodles. Heat oil over high heat until it starts to smoke. Pour in the lightly beaten egg.
You’ll see the edge quickly bubbles up. Push to one side of the wok to let the uncooked egg flow to the centre. Then break the cooked egg into bite-sized pieces with a spatula. Transfer out for later use.
Step 2: Fry the pork
The key to tender pork is to keep the frying process as brief as possible. After frying the egg, the wok is already hot. So you can add the pork right after you pour in the oil. Stir and separate the pork slices using a spatula (or a pair of chopsticks). As soon as it turns pale, transfer to the egg plate.
Step 3: Cook the vegetables
Fry scallions and ginger in a little oil to bring out their aroma. Add wood ear mushroom and lily buds. Fry for about 30 seconds. Then stir in sliced cucumber. It doesn’t take long to cook cucumber. Once you notice it begins to wilt, move onto the next step.
Step 4: Combine everything
Add the cooked egg and pork. Season with light soy sauce, salt and white pepper. Mix well to warm up the egg, pork and evenly distribute the seasonings. Dish out then serve immediately.
Usually, Moo Shu Pork is served with rice, along with other savoury dishes. You may also use it as a noodle topping, or wrap it with Chinese Spring Pancakes.
Other quick & tasty stir-fries on the blog
I’ve shared quite a few classic Chinese stir-fry recipes on the blog. Here are some examples that you might find interesting.
- Kung Pao Chicken is one of the most popular Chinese dishes known in the West. Check out how I made it the original Sichuan way which is likely to be different from what you get from a takeaway (take-out).
- Beef & Chinese Broccoli Stir-fry shows you a great way to cook a balanced dish combining meat and vegetable.
- If you fancy stir-fries with glossy, flavourful sauce, check out my recipe for Black Pepper Chicken. Its seasoning formula can be used to cook other ingredients too.
- Hot & Sour Napa Cabbage is a simple vegetarian dish bursting with flavour.
Moo Shu Pork, the Original Recipe (木樨肉)
- 150 g pork tenderloin, see note 1
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 2½ tbsp neutral cooking oil, divided
- 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten, or 2 large eggs
- 50 g wood ear mushroom (5g in dried form), rehydrated & torn into small pieces, see note 2
- 20 strands lily buds, rehydrated & cut in half crosswise, see note 3
- 80 g cucumber, sliced
- 2 stalks scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 pinch ground white pepper
- Cut the pork against the grain into thin slices (if you find it difficult, put the pork in the freezer for 1-2 hours until semi-frozen then slice). Add Shaoxing rice wine. Mix until fully absorbed.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke. Pour in the egg. When the edge is cooked, push to one side to let the uncooked part flow to the centre of the wok. Break the cooked egg into bite-sized pieces with a spatula. Transfer to a plate.
- Add another 1 tbsp of oil to the wok. Stir fry the pork. Transfer to the egg plate as soon as it turns pale (do not overcook).
- Pour the remaining ½ tbsp of oil into the wok. Fry scallions and ginger for 20 sec or so then add wood ear and lily buds. Stir fry for 30 sec then put in cucumber.
- Once the cucumber begins to wilt, add the egg and pork. Season with light soy sauce, salt and white pepper. Stir fry for 10 more sec then dish out. Serve immediately.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Hope my recipe for Moo Shu Pork has given you some insight on what real Chinese home cooking is like.