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Mapo Doufu

Mapo Doufu (Chinese Szechuan tofu and ground pork in spicy sauce)

(Chinese Szechuan tofu and ground pork in spicy sauce)

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Szechuan food is known for its mouth-numbing spiciness, and mapo doufu (麻婆豆腐) is no exception. The name of the dish means literally "pock-marked old woman," and it was supposedly just such a lady who invented the dish, a mix of tofu and ground pork in a spicy sauce. A final sprinkling of ground Szechuan peppercorns over the finished dish is a must for authenticity.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Oil -- 3 tablespoons
  • Scallions, minced -- 4
  • Garlic, minced -- 2 or 3 cloves
  • Ground pork -- 1/3 pound
  • Fermented black beans, mashed -- 1 tablespoon
  • Hot bean paste -- 1 or 2 tablespoons
  • Chicken stock -- 1/2 cup
  • Rice wine or sherry -- 2 tablespoons
  • Soy sauce -- 2 tablespoons
  • Tofu, medium or soft, cut into cubes -- 1 pound
  • Water -- 3 tablespoons
  • Cornstarch -- 1 tablespoon
  • Salt -- to taste
  • Szechuan peppercorns, ground -- 2 teaspoons

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a wok or large pot over high flame. Add the scallions and garlic and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add the ground pork and stir fry, breaking up, until the pork is just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fermented black beans and hot bean paste and stir fry for another 30 seconds or so.
  2. Stir in the chicken stock, rice wine or sherry and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add the tofu, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir the constarch slurry into the simmering tofu to thicken the sauce slightly.
  4. Adjust seasoning serve individual portions with a generous sprinkling of ground Szechuan peppercorns.

Mapo Doufu Variations

  • Vary the proportion of tofu to meat to your liking.
  • For extra heat a some minced hot peppers or chili flakes with the scallions and garlic. Or pour some hot chili oil over the top just before serving..
  • Although it's not authentic, vegetables can be added to mapo doufu to make it a full meal. Try onions, green beans or mushrooms.
  • Mala Doufu (Vegetarian version): Eliminate the pork and use vegetable stock or water instead of chicken stock.

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