Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mapo Tofu

I bought some szechuan peppercorns and was so excited to use them. Alas, they were weak or imitation peppercorns and just not up to par. I was so disappointed. Szechuan peppercorns are supposed to literally make your tongue numb when you bite into them (usually accidentally since you're not really supposed to eat them). The "Ma" part of mapo tofu actually means "numb". But even without the proper spices, this dish is always a good one.

There are so many ways to make mapo tofu and as usual, I pull my recipes out of my ***, so this is by no means the only or best or traditional way of making it. In fact, almost everytime I make it, I make it a little differently. This is what I put into it this time around....

- 1 block of soft tofu cut into cubes
- 1/2 pound of ground pork, turkey or chicken
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 2 tbsp of hot bean paste (if you don't have this, you can use a regular chili paste)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- cornstarch slurry (~1-2 tsp cornstarch mixed in a tiny bit of cold water until dissolved)
- 1 tsp ground szechuan peppercorns (optional)
- 1 scallion sliced for garnish (optional)

- Heat up your wok/pan and put enough oil in to coat the bottom
- Put the ground meat and the minced garlic and the soy sauce and cook until most of the pink in the meat is gone.
- Add in the tofu, chili paste and peppercorns. Stir gently to avoid breaking the tofu. Taste and adjust accordingly. Sometimes I'll add a bit more chili, salt, or even some sugar, depending on how it tastes.
- The tofu should release some water. If it's pretty dry, feel free to add a bit of water or chicken stock. Then add the cornstarch slurry to thicken the liquid. If it doesn't thicken up immediately, don't worry, it will thicken more after you turn off the heat. Or you can always add more cornstarch slurry. This step is actually completely optional, you'll just get a more watery sauce.
- Add the scallion
- Eat over rice!


Big Boys Oven said...

this is a lovely dish, makes the tofu taste so goo!

Anonymous said...

Loooove mapo tofu!! And yeah!! for szechuan peppercons! We'll we posting a HUGE post on peppercorns next week!