Monday, July 9, 2012

Mapo Tofu

Even though my tongue went numb several times tonight, I couldn't stop myself from shoveling more tofu into my mouth. Just thinking about it again makes me salivate. That's how good it is.

K has tried many other versions of mapo tofu, but the recipe he follows most is by Appetite for China blogger, Diana Kuan. The substitutions K made were largely due to availability of ingredients, except using beef instead of pork. That's simply my preference. Feel free to follow the original recipe as is. 

Mapo Tofu 
Serves 4 to 5 as part of a multi-course meal, or 2 to 3 as the main entree 

1 tablespoon fermented black beans (or substitute black bean sauce)
1 1/2 cup chicken stock 
2 tablespoons chili bean paste 
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry cooking sake 
1 tablespoon sesame oil 
2 teaspoons soy sauce 
2 teaspoons sugar 
½ teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns 
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil 
½ pound ground pork or beef 
2 leeks, white parts thinly sliced at an angle 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon minced ginger 
1 block soft or medium-firm tofu (about 1 pound), drained and cut into 1-inch cubes 
1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water 
1 3 stalks of scallion, green part chopped for garnish 

Prepare the sauce 
1) Rinse the black beans to remove any grit. 

2) In a small bowl, mash the black beans with the back of a spoon. 

3) Combine the black beans with the chicken stock, chili bean paste, rice wine, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and Sichuan pepper and set aside. 

4) Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. 

5) Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the base and sides. 

6) Add the pork beef and stir-fry until crispy and starting to brown but not yet dry, about 2 minutes, breaking up the pork beef with a spatula. (Note, you may need to drain the juice from the ground beef if it is really fatty.) 

7) Reduce the heat to medium, then add leeks, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. 

8) Pour in the sauce and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. The liquid should now be a rich red color. 

9) Gently add the tofu cubes, being careful to not move them around too much or else they will break up. 

10) Allow the sauce to simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes so the tofu can cook and absorb the sauce. 

11) Carefully push the tofu to the sides and create a small well in the middle. 

12) Stir in the cornstarch mixture in the center. 

13) Allow the liquid to simmer for another minute, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. 

14) Transfer to a deep plate or wide bowl, sprinkle scallions on top, and serve hot.

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