Sunday, September 7, 2014

Szechuan Ma Po Doufu

Mapo doufu1 is a famous dish from China's Sichuan province served over rice. It is a combination of soft bean curd (doufu) in a spicy chili-garlic sauce, douchi (fermented black beans) and minced meat (pork

or beef). Variations exist with other ingredients such as water chestnuts, onions, mushrooms, chives, and or wood ear fungus. In American Chinese cuisine, this dish is often made without meat to appeal to vegetarians, and the amount of pepper toned down. The version here is necessarily complex in the number of ingredients to deepen the flavor as flavor is everything. In the Chinese Sichuan restarant they do not pull punches when it come to the heat of this dish. If you’re a novice work you way up the heat. Eventually, you will come to love this for how hot it is.

2 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 Tespoon hot sesame oil
1 Tablespoon dried red pepper
1 Tablespoon Sichuan pepper
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
3 Tablespoons chopped shallots
3 Tablespoons chopped mushrooms
1 Tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
1 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon black soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Szechuan spicy bean paste
2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
4 Cloves minced garlic
½ Cup ground beef or pork
2 Tablespoons fermented black bean chili sauce
1 Cup homemade rich chicken broth
1 Package firm tofu, drained on paper towels
1 ½  Tablespoon cornstarch + cold water to make a slurry
3 Large scallions, sliced diagonally

1 Teaspoon brown sugar (to taste)
1 Tablespoon Marin
2 Teaspoon fish sauce
Mung bean sprouts

Wrap tofu in paper towels for 20 minutes or more to drain. Pre mix thickener of cornstarch and cold water and reserve until needed.

Heat a wok over high heat. When wok is smoking, add oil.

In a little oil, stir fry red pepper, garlic, ginger, black bean chili sauce, ma po bean suace3, mushrooms, shallots until fragrant then add ground meat. Stir fry meat, breaking it up with your chun4, until just done. Add soy sauces, Shaoxing wine, chicken broth, then reduce liquid by cooking on high. Add cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce. When thick, correct the seasoning. Use Marin and/or brown sugar to add some sweetness. Slice tofu brick in half, then cross cut into ¾ inch cubes. Gently slide in tofu off a plate carefully to avoid breaking the pieces. Gentle push the tofu around to get it coated well. Add Sichuan pepper, bean sprouts and scallions.

Serve over steamed aromatic white jasmine2 rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

  1. Ma Po Doufu (tofu) means "pock-marked grandmother" named after Wen Qiaoqiao who served this in her restaurant.
  2. Also known as Thai fragrant rice.
  3. Lee Kum Kee Spicy Bean Sauce (ma po) is available in many grocery stores
  4. The chun is the wok spoon with a rounded curve face

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