“What are we having for dinner?” We’ll bet you’ve answered this at least a few times with, “what about Chinese?” If you’ve got a hankering for something oriental, look no further. In this article, we’ll talk about how to make a Chinese dish called moo shu shrimp at home.
What does “moo shu” mean?
Ever dropped into a Chinese restaurant after a night on the town? Chances are, while you were perusing the menu you came across something called “moo shu pork”. You might have even ordered it. And you must have been blown away by the savory yet lightly sweet taste soon after. But what does moo shu mean?
First off, let’s get the name out of the way. You might see moo shu spelled and pronounced in all kinds of ways, like mù xū, moo shi, mu shu, or mu xi.
There’s some debate about how we ended up with that name. But the theory we like (because it’s kind of cute!) is that there’s a tree in China called “mu xi”. Every October, these tiny trees come alive with clusters of little yellow and white flowers. Coincidentally, these clusters look just like scrambled eggs, which is a main ingredient of the traditional moo shu recipe. Ancient Chinese chefs named their dish after the fragrant flower, and the name stuck. Poetic, isn’t it?
But enough etymology. Let’s talk food.
What’s in a moo shu dish?
Moo shu originated from Northern China, possibly Shandong. So the ingredients you’ll use to prepare a traditional moo shu dish are what you’d expect from food from that region.
In traditional Chinese cuisine, moo shu is made with a single type of meat (chicken, beef, pork, fish, or even shrimp!) plus cucumber, scrambled egg (hence the name, remember?), wood ear mushrooms, and enokitake mushrooms. The whole thing is made tasty with minced ginger and garlic, scallions, soy sauce, and rice cooking wine.
The world got to know about moo shu through America. Or specifically, Chinese American immigrants. In the ‘60s, Chinese restaurant owners began to serve moo shu with their own special twist. The American public loved it. And here we are, more than half a decade later, still very much in love.
Traditionally, moo shu is served with rice, noodles, or tofu. In the States, this dish is often served with what are known as moo shu pancakes: essentially white, thin tortilla which the diner uses to wrap the moo shu meat before stuffing their face.
That’s the backstory of this delicious dish derived from the Far East. Now, let’s look at how you can make one particular type of moo shu—moo shu shrimp—right at home.
How to make moo shu shrimp at home
Let’s get this out of the way—most Chinese families don’t make moo shu with shrimp. They use pork or chicken for the most part, vegetables if so desired.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand at pairing seafood with the traditional Chinese recipe. Feeling experimental? Here’s how to make modern moo shu shrimp at home.
- Peanut oil, divided: 2 tablespoons
- Minced garlic, divided: 1 tablespoon
- Small shrimp, peeled and deveined: 1 pound (450g)
- Mushrooms, thinly sliced: 2 cups
- Carrot, shredded: 1 cup
- Green onions, chopped: ½ cup
- Napa cabbage, chopped: 6 cups
- Soy sauce, low sodium: 2 tablespoons
- Cornstarch: 2 teaspoons
- Sriracha sauce (or chili-garlic sauce): 1 teaspoon
- Hoisin sauce: 2 teaspoons
And to serve the dish,
- Flour tortillas, 12-inch: 4
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic and the shrimp. Stir fry for 3 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through.
2. Remove shrimp from the pan and keep warm.
3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut oil to the pan.
4. Add the remaining garlic and mushrooms. Stir fry for 1 minute or until the mushrooms are tender.
5. Add carrot and onions. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
6. Add cabbage, cook another 2 minutes or until cabbage is wilted.
7. Combine soy sauce, 1 tablespoon water, cornstarch, and sriracha/chili-garlic sauce in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve.
8. Stir this mixture into the cabbage mixture. Remove from heat, stir in shrimp, tossing to coat.
9. Place 1/2 cup of the shrimp mixture onto the tortillas, drizzle with hoisin sauce. Wrap it up and enjoy!
Servings per recipe: 4
Nutrition information per 1 serving (412g):
- Calories: 463.8
- Fat: 15g (29% DV)
- Cholesterol: 143.3mg (47%)
- Sodium: 1.52mg (63%)
- Carbohydrates: 56.7g (18%)
- Protein: 26.1g (52%)
(The percentages daily value (%DV) are based on a 2000 calorie diet).
The moo shu family of dishes is steeped in tradition, but has also evolved to fit the modern world. Moo shu shrimp is the perfect example. You won’t find ancient Chinese cooks using seafood as the main protein in their recipe, but it just works.
Did you try your hand at this special bit of culinary Kung Fu? Let us know in the comments how your moo shu shrimp turns out!