TLT’s Table: “Miracle” Mu Shu Vegetables

Even though he’s been a longtime veggie-avoider, one of my son’s favorite dishes in a Chinese restaurant is mu shu chicken.  Somehow he’s never quite realized that lurking within that folded pancake is not just chicken and savory-sweet hoisin sauce, but also a big ol’ pile of shredded cabbage — and I’ve certainly never felt the need to tell him.  :-)

Well, last week I decided to try making mu shu at home but I wanted to make a vegetarian version; without the presence of the familiar chicken, I was pretty sure my son wouldn’t eat it.   And when my son — who just finished a week of cooking classes — asked if he could help me cook the dish (which would mean seeing the entire array of vegetables in their raw state), I became certain he wouldn’t eat it.  Following my “No Short Order Cooking” philosophy, I’d even planned the meal to include some pre-made cilantro and chicken dumplings so he wouldn’t go completely hungry.

Pretty, right?

We started with a recipe from called “Mu Shu in Moments,” but I ramped up the garlic and ginger a little bit, omitted the chicken, doubled the amount of egg (I like my mu shu a little “eggy,” plus it replaced the protein of the omitted chicken), and I added three vegetables not called for by the recipe – shredded carrots, julienned snow peas and julienned sliced bamboo shoots.  My revamped version is written out here.

The dish was really yummy —  I’d say it was about an 80% approximation of mu shu from my favorite Chinese restaurant which, for an amateur home cook, is a pretty good result.

But the real surprise?  You guessed it.  My son put a huge scoop of the all-veggie mixture onto his

Here it is on a w/w tortilla - use real mu shu pancakes if you can find them.

tortilla and proceeded to eat EVERY BITE.   When I say that he ate in one sitting more veggies than he’s eaten in the past year, I might be only slightly exaggerating.  And he hasn’t eaten that many carrots – formerly his vegetable Arch Enemy Number One  – since the days when I was spooning carrot puree into his tiny infant mouth.

Cue up angelic choir.

How to account for this miraculous event?  Was it because I was copying a dish he already loved?  Was it the fact that he helped me cook the meal and has been going to cooking classes (more on that in a future post)?  Or was it just a reflection of the fact that he’s getting older and slowly outgrowing his veggie phobia, as experts predict most children eventually will?

All I know is, this recipe is inexpensive, easy, vegetarian, delicious — and possibly a conduit for divine intervention.  What more could you ask for on a random weeknight?

[Ed Note: All recipes previously published on this site, including this one, now appear at the top of every page under the “Recipes” tab.]

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  1. Stephanie says

    Kudos to you on your success!
    I love the recipe! I just sent it to my mom who will be teaching cooking in an Indiana high school this upcoming year! With all that cutting, those kids should learn some good knife skills!
    Thanks for sharing, Bettina!

  2. Kim says

    Love your addition of carrots and snow peas here…..pure genius! And I’m so glad your son ate his vegetables! You know how they (whoever “they” are) say you have to offer some kids a new food a couple of dozen times before they’ll accept it? Maybe the magic number for your son is more like a million times and the homemade moo shu was the 1,000,001st time 😉

    • Bettina Elias Siegel says

      Kim – I think that’s it, totally! I’ve often heard that “one dozen” figure and laughed inside, thinking, um, add a few zeros to that, maybe! So I guess the lesson for parents of the so-called picky eater is time, patience and continued exposure, even if it feels hopeless.

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