Introduction: Mapo Tofu
This recipe can serve 2 to 3 people and can be prepared in about 15-25 minutes.
Mapo tofu is a classic and traditional dish from the Sichuan Province, China. Mapo translates into "pockmarked grandma" so Mapo tofu can be called, "pockmarked grandma's bean curd." This dish provides a lot of flavor and although some spicy ingredients are used, the dish is mild enough for anyone to enjoy. The optional Chinese red peppers add a unique tingling sensation and are recommended. Mapo tofu is also an easy home-style dish to make for even the novice cooker or someone with no experience in cooking-- although it is advised that any first time cookers familiarize themselves with their stovetops. In addition to being easy to make, the dish is also fairly cheap and the ingredients can be quickly found at most supermarkets. Even if some ingredients cannot be found at Western supermarkets, substitutes can be used instead.
Caution: High heat will be used throughout most of the cooking process so the cooker should take the necessary precautions to prevent burning or spilling of hot material. This may include using oven mitts, an apron, and the appropriate cookware listed. If the heat becomes too high, remove the pan from the source, and cover the pan. Turn down the heat and wait to put the pan back until everything has settled down. Anyone new to using a stovetop should familiarize his or herself with how the stove is heated, how hot the stove can get, and how fast the stove gets hot.
Step 1: Preparation
· Wok or large cooking pan (14" pan is suggested; other sizes must be large enough for beef, tofu, and beef broth to fit comfortably inside)
· Bowl to put tofu in
· Cooking Spatula
· Cutting board and knife
Step 2: Ingredients
· 400grams(14oz) tofu: medium firm or firm (Recommend: medium firm)
· 50grams(2oz) ground beef
· 30grams(2 Tbs) spicy bean paste
· 4grams(teaspoon) sea salt
· 2grams(half of a teaspoon) chicken flavor
· 15grams(1 Tbs) soy sauce
· 10grams(2 teaspoons) Chinese rice wine also known as yellow wine
· 20grams(1.5 Tbs) diced garlic
· 300ml(1.25 cups) of beef broth
· 30grams(2 Tbs) peanut oil or vegetable oil
· 2gram(half of a teaspoon) Chinese red pepper powder
· Optional--2gram(half of a teaspoon) chopped green onion
· 2 teaspoons of starch mixed with 1 cup of water- for thicker sauce
Step 3: Tofu Preparation
First, dice the tofu into 1 in small cubes.
Next, place the tofu into a bowl of water and add half of a teaspoon of salt to the water. The water level should be sit above the tofu. Let the tofu sit for 10-15 minutes. The longer it sits, the saltier it will be. Keeping the tofu in salted water also prevents the tofu from tasting too sour.
Step 4: Slice and Dice
While waiting for the tofu, perform these steps:
Dice the garlic into fine pieces.
Ready the Chinese red pepper powder and chop the onions into thin pieces (Onions and peppers are optional, but recommend.)
Mix about 1 cup of water with about 2 teaspoons of starch. Stir vigorously. If starch is sticking to the walls of the cup, add slightly more water. Don’t add so much water that mixture becomes runny. A good mixture should look like milk.
Ready the beef broth, spicy bean paste, and chicken flavor. Double check to make sure all ingredients are ready to go before cooking begins.
Step 5: Collect the Tofu
Pour the water and tofu onto a sieve. Let the water drain through the sieve to collect the tofu. Set aside tofu.
Step 6: Cook the Beef
Begin heating 2 Tbs of peanut oil in wok or cooking pan under high heat. When the oil is hot, add the ground beef. Stir beef frequently.
When the beef is browned, add 2 Tbs of spicy bean paste. Stir-fry the beef, continuing at high heat.
Caution: If oil begins to jump out of the pan, remove from heat. Stir the contents quickly and place back on heat once oil has settled. Consistent stirring will prevent oil from over-heating. Under cooking of the beef may cause food poisoning--make sure beef is browned throughout.
Step 7: Season the Beef
After about 1 or 2 minutes, add in the rice wine (yellow wine) and diced garlic. Mix well.
After another 1 or 2 minutes, add in the beef broth slowly. Bring broth to a boil. Continue stirring.
Next, add in 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Mix well.
Step 8: Add Tofu and Season
While stirring, add in tofu. Bring back to a boil momentarily. Then reduce heat to medium and let sit for 5 minutes.
After letting it sit, add half of a teaspoon of chicken flavor and the starch mixture to the pan. Mix all contents thoroughly and slowly as to avoid breaking tofu.
After mixing for 1 to 2 minutes, remove from heat.
Step 9: Finishing Touches
While still warm, sprinkle onions and peppers to liking.
May serve with steamed white rice.