Sunday, March 23, 2014

Making muu shu pork - worth the effort?

My old friend Carol came to visit me from Winnipeg and we decided to recreate one of our long standing traditions - starting in 1984, we used to go to the old Szechan Restaurant on Pembina Highway and order the chicken with cashews (with chilis and baby corn) and the muu shuu pork.  If you've never had muu shuu, it's a crunchy stirfry that you mound onto sesame oil infused pancakes, slathered in hoisin sauce and a dab of hot sauce, eat like a mini burrito - sweet! 

Rather than simply finding a restaurant that serves this dish, we decided that we should try and make it ourselves.  I found this Fine Cooking recipe which started with a hunt for unusual ingredients in our local chinese grocery store... cloud ears (dried mushrooms), golden needles (dried lily buds) and bamboo shoots all added interesting flavours and textures to this complex dish.

Unfortunately it was a crazily complicated recipe - lots of chopping and soaking and stir frying... We even went as far as handrolling the mandarin pancakes and making the mandarin sauce - exhausting!
making the pancakes...

Spread on the mandarin sauce

Pile on some of the stir fry
Don't forget the hot sauce!

Roll it up - like a burrito

  I'd suggest looking for an easier recipe....or just eat out!!  The pancakes were delicious, but super labour intensive. The crunchy texture was there, but sadly, after all of that effort, the flavour of the stir fry was a bit underwhelming... of course if you slather on enough hoisin sauce, anything tastes good!  (Thanks to Donald, the dishwasher....)

Fantastisch! Lunch at Das Lokal

Decided to stop by Das Lokal last month for a quick lunch - I used to frequent the Portuguese chicken place that was here before, and even date back to the KFC days of this site!  I had heard good things about this place - German inspired menu - I grew up on schnitzel (but also on sushi!) - so why not?!?

I literally gasped when I walked in the resto.  Gone was the dark, dated, European restaurant look of the 60's... and I was suddenly transported into a northern European/Scandinavian space - light wood surfaces, colourful banners, natural light pouring in - it was the perfect winter getaway.  Our hostess told me about some of the extras they were working on - cute little fire outside, with fur covered seats to curl up in, even a piano that gets played on the weekends.  

I started with an Edelweiss, a lovely cocktail of sparkling wine and St. Germain liqueur (elderflowers).  The perfect mix of sparkly-sweet-floral tones.  Perfect to whet the appetite... So good, in fact, that we went straight to LCBO to buy a bottle after lunch!.

I ordered the Gravlax Tartine, a yummy open face sandwich with burnt orange wild BC coho salmon on top, creme fraiche and pickled onions, served with a side salad and butternut squash soup (sooooo creamy).  Memories of open faced sandwiches in Denmark and Sweden.

Donald ordered the German Burger - a pork sausage burger served on a sweet roll with the requisite mustard, with the same side salad and delish thick cut fries.

Nice wine list, relaxed service - we'll be back soon!  Another huge selling point - Das Lokal has a huge parking lot (thanks to its KFC roots)...  love the Lowertown location.

No web site that I can find, but they are on Twitter.

Das Lokal on Urbanspoon