Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ma Po Tofu

A wonderful, aromatic dish of tofu in a bean paste and meat sauce, and one that's taken far too long to write up since it's one of my favorites.  Because the meat is used as a seasoning you can easily make this vegetarian by omitting the meat, in which case either up the tofu or add in some mushrooms.


12 oz extra firm tofu, cut in to half inch cubes
6 oz ground pork (or beef, or omit)
1 T fermented black beans
3-4 T chile bean paste
1 T soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 large green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (more if small)
1 t roasted ground Sichuan pepper
1 C stock (meat of your choice, or veggie)
corn starch and water in a slurry to thicken
dried chiles to taste
3 T oil

Cook the tofu in simmering lightly salted water for several minutes, then drain.

Heat the oil and chiles in a wok over high heat until the chiles start to blacken.  Add in the meat if using and stir fry, stirring constantly until the meat starts to brown.  Add in the fermented black beans, chile bean paste, garlic, and Sichuan pepper (I prefer to combine these ingredients in a bowl before starting to cook).  Stir fry until fragrant and the oil is bright red.

Add the stock and the soy sauce, and bring to a simmer, then add the tofu.  Simmer for five minutes to blend the flavors, then gradually add in the corn starch slurry to thicken (do this slowly, in several installments, so you don't end up with gloop).  Add the green onions and stir for a few seconds, adjust seasoning to taste, and serve with rice.

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