I learned my Mapo Tofu recipe from a Sichuan friend, the birthplace of this remarkable dish. My friend’s mother attended the Sichuan Culinary Institute at Chengdu, so the recipe is as authentic as it can be. Please be warned that this Mapo Tofu is not for the faint-hearted, it’s tongue-burning fiery and downright incendiary. I just love the strong and bold flavors, however, do tone down on the chili powder and chili oil if you would like a milder taste. If you are in the mood for beef, you can use ground beef in place of ground pork.
Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal
- 1 block (18-oz/500 g) soft tofu, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade Chili oil
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorn oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz (100 g) ground pork or beef
- 3 tablespoons hot bean sauce
- 1 teaspoon fermented black beans (douchi), rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 2 oz (50 g) leek or 1 stalk green onion (scallion), cut diagonally into 1 in (2.5 cm) lengths
- tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
- Salt to taste
- Mix all the ingredients in the Sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cut the tofu into small bite-sized cubes, drain the water from the tofu and set aside.
- Heat the oil, Chili Oil, and Sichuan Peppercorn Oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry to a light brown before adding the ground pork or beef, hot bean sauce, and fermented black beans. Stir the ingredients a few times until the meat is half cooked or becomes aromatic.
- Stir in the Sauce and then add the tofu. Stir gently with the spatula to combine the ingredients well. Make sure not to break the tofu. Lower the heat and simmer for about 3–5 minutes. Add the leek or green onion and stir gently. Dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.
COOK’S NOTE: Too greasy and spicy? Tone down the oil, Chili Oil, and Sichuan Pepper-corn Oil to your preference.
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