My favorite delicacy from my local Chinese restaurant growing up was Moo Shu Vegetables.
I had no qualms about eating meat, but the elements that I liked best about moo shu were the finely julienned, slightly crunchy cabbage, carrots and peppers—not unlike a big pile of egg roll filling—so eventually, I stopped messing around with the chicken or pork, and just ordered vegetable moo shu.
We had a tradition in my family of going to Chinese food before the movies, as there was a restaurant on the Upper West Side called Ollie’s that was as close as you could get to the entrance of our closest movie theater. You could call us lazy, but it was also delicious
I loved the act of wrapping the filling in the light, slightly chewy mandarin pancake. Moo shu was always better in person, when the discs could be plucked straight from a steamer basket. Perhaps because of these memories, I never attempted to make my own moo shu vegetables recipe until now.
Making the sauce gluten-free is easy enough these days, as there are adequate store bought replacements for hoisin sauce and soy sauce. But I worried about finding the right vessel for the filling, since as mentioned, I am rather lazy and not inclined to make my own from scratch.
Recently, when I was feasting on some tacos, it occurred to me that these cassava or almond flour tortillas would make a great gluten-free substitute. They aren’t as thin as traditional mandarin pancakes, but when steamed in a dish towel in the microwave, they have a similar texture and pliability.
Once I figured out that piece, the vegetable part was easy. I used this wonderful recipe from Woks of Life as a guide, but opted for a combination of low FODMAP vegetables: carrots, bell peppers, green cabbage (in LF safe quantity) and dried shitakes. You could also add bean sprouts and thinly sliced bok choy for more variety. If you’re not vegan, you can also add some scrambled egg.
Mushrooms are among the most consistent ingredient in any moo shu vegetable recipe, traditionally wood ear or enokitake. But they also are universally off limits on a low FODMAP diet. I discovered, however, that on the Monash Fodmap app that dried shitakes were deemed safe in 2 mushroom servings. I actually began keeping some around in the pantry for this very reason, since it’s a waste-free way to use mushrooms in smaller doses. So I was delighted that I could rehydrate and throw a few into this mu shoo vegetable mixture.
If you’re not low FODMAP, you can double the quantity of shitakes (and/or use fresh ones) and add some more traditional add-ins: julienned leeks, garlic in the sauce, and both the white and green scallions.
Unfortunately, most hoisin sauces have a little garlic powder in them. I didn’t find it bothered me in so small a quantity, but you should omit if you’re very sensitive or following the low FODMAP diet rigidly. To add some thickness to the sauce, feel free to add a teaspoon of corn or arrowroot starch.
Shaoxing wine is a traditional Chinese cooking wine that’s used in this dish. I didn’t have any on hand, so I substituted with the closest thing, sherry. If you have mirin or sake on hand, those work too in a pinch.
Lastly, though this recipe is quick overall, the julienning of the veggies does take some time, so feel free to use a food processor or find some short cuts at the market. Pre-shredded carrots or cabbage would work great.
Once you begin cooking the vegetables, one by one, the dish comes together super fast and easy. Though you may be tempted to add everything into your wok or skillet at once, it really does help to keep the vegetables caramelized, yet al dente, to work in batches.
It can be much harder to find recipes for a plant-based or vegan SIBO diet, so this dish definitely fits the bill. It’s also a wonderful way to get more variety of vegetables in on a low FODMAP or SIBO diet. And diversity is always the name of the game when it comes to healing the gut.
Read on for this vegan, gluten-free moo shu vegeatables recipe (that can also be low FODMAP!)
With health and hedonism,
Moo Shu Vegetables (Gluten-Free, Low FODMAP)
Adapted from this wonderful recipe from Woks of Life, this gluten-free version was also designed to be low FODMAP-optional. Check the label on your hoisin sauce and omit it if you’re very sensitive to the small amount of garlic powder. Also note per the above, that only dried shitakes are LF and they then must be rehydrated. To serve the moo shu, wrap the makeshift gluten-free pancakes in a clean dish towel and microwave or heat in the oven until steaming. The filling can be made days in advance, but once those pancakes are hot, serve immediately!
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free hoisin sauce see note, optional, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine sherry, sake or mirin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil I use avocado oil
- 2 medium carrots julienned
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 orange or yellow pepper thinly sliced
- 3 cups finely shredded green cabbage
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms rehydrated and thinly sliced (see note, optional)
- 2 scallions green parts only, julienned
- 12 Gluten-free mandarin pancakes or cassava/almond flour tortillas for serving (see note)
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the tamari, hoisin sauce, wine, sesame oil, and salt. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir-fry the julienned carrots for 2 minutes, until softer but still crunchy, then transfer to a bowl and set aside. Using the same method, cook the red bell peppers, cabbage and shiitake mushrooms separately, and set those aside in the same bowl. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables – they should be pliable but still al dente.
Return all the vegetables to the pan and add in the sauce mixture. Stir fry everything together for another minute.
Serve immediately with the scallions, steamed gluten-free pancakes and more hoisin sauce on the side!