Moo Shu Pork is a quick and healthy dish that was a popular appetizer at my dad’s old restaurant.
The Story of Moo Shu Pork
Traditionally, Moo Shu Pork belongs to Northern Chinese cuisine. By some accounts, the recipe first appeared in Shandong Province, where it then grew in popularity and evolved as it spread to Beijing, the rest of China, and to Western countries.
It was originally called Moo Shi Pork (or “muhk sāi” in Cantonese), named after the famous Sweet Osmanthus tree, which produces beautiful blossoms of "gwai fā" (桂花), a Chinese symbol of nobility, status, love, and peace.
China even named a city in the tree’s honor, Guilin, which literally means ”Forest of Sweet Osmanthus”, and which also happens to be where my parents went for their honeymoon in the 80s.
After the dish spread to American Chinese restaurants in the 1960s, somewhere along the way, we started calling it Mu Shu Pork (“muhk sēui” in Cantonese). This is a nod to some of its core ingredients - wood ear fungus (“muhk yih”) and scrambled eggs, which resemble the white and yellow blossoms of the Osmanthus tree.