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.
We started with a recipe from Epicurious.com 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.
But the real surprise? You guessed it. My son put a huge scoop of the all-veggie mixture onto his
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.
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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