Mapo Tofu, Just Like Mom Used to Make
Ok, well not my mom but someone’s Chinese mom made this. This super fast and easy mapo tofu recipe came from a penpal I have who lives just right out of Suzhou, China so naturally thanks goes out to her.
I had this dish a couple times when traveling around China and really thought it was quite good, very filling and inexpensive to make. I experimented a bit trying to blend the right type of Sichuan heat. I believe I have it nailed for my palate but by all means turn the heat up if you like.
Some Quick Mapo Tofu Notes:
I like firm tofu. If it’s too soft it falls apart into the mixture and looks messy almost like a porridge. I like for it to keep its integrity not only to balance the spice and saltiness but so it presents well.
As for the pork I am very compulsive about it’s source. I stay far away from China Town for my proteins. I like the Wholefoods quality or even some of the local farms that have sprung up online.
When it comes to the Sichuan peppercorns grind them fresh. Do not substitute regular black peppercorns. They are not Sichuan and you definitely want that bit of tongue numbing flavor here.
I go lite on almost all the pastes and soy sauce. This dish will be plenty salty given that there are three big sources of salt; soy, broad bean paste and fermented black bean paste. You will most likely have to buy these from China town or online. Again, there are no substitutions here. If you can’t find bean pastes, move onto a different dish today.
Now, I like homemade non-salted pork broth. It add a lot of depth to this dish. Pork stock is very easy to make and you can freeze it in cubes for when you need it. If you simply don’t have it, then just use water.
For an oniony flavor I use chive blossoms. They tend to hold on to their color and don’t break down as fast as scallions which is what I want in this dish. I want you to notice them.
Lastly, I mix up a tablespoon of starch and water. This will tighten the mixture up so it’s not so soupy. It will also add a final gloss to your dish which is classic in Chinese cooking.
Mapo Tofu Recipe
- 1 package of firm tofu
- 1 cup of free range ground pork
- 1 tablespoon spicy broad bean paste
- 2 teaspoon of fermented black bean paste
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground Sichuan peppercorn
- 1/2 tablespoon Tamari Lite soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of homemade pork broth
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
- 1/2 cup finely chopped chive blossom
- 1 teaspoon chili oil
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 dash of some type of Shao Xing rice wine
- 1 :4 tablespoons of starch to water
- Simply toss the two oils into a wok and bring it up to high
- Toss in the ground pork and when it's almost all done add the ginger, garlic and soy sauce
- Stir-fry for a couple minutes
- Remove that mixture from the wok and set aside
- Now add both bean pastes
- Once the aroma fills the kitchen add the ground peppercorn and tofu
- Gently stir it around for a couple minutes
- Add the pork mixture back in
- Give it a stir and add the pork stock
- Let that cook down for a couple minutes
- Add the chive blossoms
- Stir that around for a minute (lots of stirring which is why it's a stir-fry, ders)
- Lastly, add the starchy water
- Give it a final stir and serve with plenty of rice