May 19, 2009

If the Mu Shu Fits...

For anyone just tuning in, you may or may not know that I spent a year following college graduation teaching English in rural northeastern China (there's even a separate blog dedicated to it). I ate a LOT of good food during that year, and none of it was this concoction known as mu shu here in the west. In fact, I'm not convinced it isn't a product of westernized Chinese food evolution. Still, I did live in northern China, and I learned very quickly that their cuisine does not closely resemble what you find on a standard take-out menu here, which is often dominated by southern Chinese dishes.

All that said, I found myself with an odd craving for trashy take-out mu shu recently, so I figured, why not try to healthify it a little? So I improvised and the result was good, so now I present you with my take on mu shu tofu.

For the tofu:
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, cut into 8 equal slices
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar (or honey/sugar/sweetener)
  • 2 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp each crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder
  • 2 tsp-ish ground ginger
For the mu shu filling:
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (I actually used some from a jar)
  • 1/2 bag broccoli slaw, or about 2 cups julienned broccoli stalks
  • 1 bag cole slaw mix, such as Dole, or at least 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 4 tbsp black bean sauce, such as Kame
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp basil (I used a Dorot frozen basil cube)
  • 2 tsp agave nectar (or other sweetener)
  • 1 tsp+ ground ginger
First, you'll want to prepare the tofu using the Gliding Calm method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400*.
  2. Slice the tofu and combine all the rub ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray and arrange the tofu slices on the prepared sheet.
  4. Brush each slice with the rub. Flip tofu and brush the other side.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes (or until at desired crispness), flipping halfway through the cooking time.
  1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and let cook until it begins to sizzle.
  2. Add shredded veggies and stir to coat with the oil. The volume of the veggies should reduce a little as you do this.
  3. Add the black bean sauce and seasonings. Stir until everything is well coated and distributed.
  4. Add the water and simmer, stirring occasionally and adjusting the seasonings if desired, until the veggies are tender-crisp.
  5. Fill a whole-grain tortilla with 2 slices of tofu and 1/4 of the vegetable mixture and enjoy!
Serves 4

Ok, so obviously the entire portion did not fit inside my tortilla, but I have no problems with a little extra on the side. :) Since I made this with black bean sauce, my mu shu is not as sweet (or oily) as the take-out version. If you want a taste more similar to take-out, I recommend buying a jar of hoisin sauce, also known as plum sauce. Take-out mu shu usually comes with paper thin rice pancakes, which you would smear with hoisin and then dollop in the filling. Obviously, I have taken some liberties with that idea, but the essence was there and it was tasty. Just play with the spices and/or veggies to suit yourself! This was totally improvised, so it's a formula worth playing with. Let yourself get decently heavy-handed with the ground ginger, though, both in the filling and on the tofu - you won't regret it!

And for dessert, we have a Seinfeld shake.

No, the OTHER Seinfeld - the wifey. I felt all deceptively delicious blending this:
  • big handful of organic salad greens
  • 1 6-oz container Turtle Mountain chocolate coconut "yogurt"
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 6 ice cubes
Don't knock it 'til you try it - the greens were not even detectable among the rich chocolatey goodness!

Speaking of rich chocolatey goodness...

I got a present today. JACKPOT! I've been wanting to try Vitatops forever! Many thanks to a very generous Vitalicious - y'all are gonna be seeing a few Vitatops 'round here for a while, dontcha know...

And just for food porn indulgence, here's a picture of the breakfast I ate Saturday. 

I never got around to posting then, but I keep looking at this picture and wishing I was eating it again! 
  • 2 toasted Kashi waffles
  • 1 tbsp crunchy natural PB
  • 1 tbsp spicy maple fig spread
  • 1 container Oikos vanilla Greek yogurt (spread in between the waffles and over the top)
Somehow the pillowy yogurt on top keeps sucking me into its tractor beam and I get little spiral swirlies in my pupils.

Alright, that's enough foodie nonsense for one evening. How about a giveaway? Missy is giving away Rudi's bakery goodies here!

Also, I'll be adding a couple sites to my Healthy Resources link list at right:

You're just a quick search away from a healthy meal at your favorite restaurants! Happy eats. :)


ChickPea said...

Ha! Very clever post title:)

carla said...

all of it.
especially the shake

I wanted it to be a kramer shake.
a costanza shake?

healthy ashley said...

I want some of those Vitalicious products!!!!

I don't know what the mu shu dish was like BEFORE, but I think you did a great job with the AFTER! It looks yummy :)

Anonymous said...

woow i can't believe you made that mu shu!!! I thought it came from a restaurant!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

Oooh and your breakfast looks heavenly. The greek yogurt on top looks like whipped cream! yummmm!!! You're making me drool. *sigh*

Sweta said...

Mu shu-lovely!! Have you ever tried Indo-chinese food? It's so absolutely different from authentic Chinese food.It's great tasting but not exactly what you'll find in China-I guess every culture tries to do their own take on the popular dishes!
P.S;you must try the manchurian(Chicken/Gobi)-the Chinese have probably never even heard of such a dish.

Elina said...

I'm SO making this breakfast soon. Looks awesome!
You scored again with an awesome package. Sweet.