Updated: Mar 19, 2021
If you are familiar with Chinese cuisine you have heard of the Sichuan region where some of the spiciest (& most delicious) food come from. In the Sichuan province, they are known for mala, a spicy and numbing food experience. Consumers will experience a tingling sensation on the tongue, induced by dried chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns. You will also find no shortage of the use of chili oil (see prior posts for my recipe). Normally you can spot it from the beautiful fiery red color of the oil in the dishes (can you tell I love spicy food?). There is no lack of flavor/seasoning here!
Today's recipe is mapo tofu, which among some of the most infamous dishes originating from the Sichuan region like hot pot, Kung Pao chicken, and Dandan noodles. If you have tofu in your fridge that needs to be eaten this is a fantastic way to use it. Normally a protein is included such as ground pork or beef, however, if you are vegetarian and looking for a flavorful meal this can be adjusted for that easily. Once you do try this recipe you will find that it is so easy and it just may become a staple meal. The hardest part is finding the proper ingredients. So let's start there since it will require a trip to an Asian market to get it right. You will need to buy red chili paste and fermented beans which add its unique and fantastic flavor.
What 100 g minced pork or beef
450 g soft or firm tofu
1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. salt
6-8 dried red chilies, chopped
4 tbsp. cooking oil, divided
1.5 tbsp. Doubanjiang, roughly chopped
1/2 tbsp. fermented beans, also known as dou-chi, chopped
1 tbsp. pepper flakes or powder
1 1/2 tbsp. fresh ground Sichuan peppers (花椒, hua jiao)
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar, optional for reducing the spiciness
2 scallion whites, finely chopped
3-4 scallion greens, minced
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
Cut tofu into square 1-inch cubes. Bring a large amount of water to a boil and then add some salt. Place the tofu in and cook for a minute then drain. This will help keep the tofu firm.
Get a wok or large pan & heat 2 tablespoons of oil, fry the minced meat until crispy. Remove the pork out and leave the oil in the wok. Add one more tablespoon of oil.
Fry the red bean chili paste (doubanjiang) for a minute until the red color deepens. Then add fermented black beans, red chilies, birds-eye chilies, garlic, scallion white, ginger, and fermented black beans and cook for 30 seconds.
Pour in chicken stock. Add soy sauce, sugar, and half of the cooked beef after it begins to boil reduce to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Gently place the tofu in, and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
While simmering, in a small bowl mix well 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2.5 tablespoons of water. Pour half of the mixture into the simmering pot. Wait for 30 seconds to let the sauce thicken then pour the other half. Add the rest of the cooked beef then drizzle with sesame oil. Combine well.
Transfer into a bowl and sprinkle with Szechuan peppercorn powder (to taste) and chopped green onions.
Serve immediately with rice 🍛