Recipe: Ma Po Tofu (麻婆豆腐)
1 block silken tofu (19 oz box)
1/4 lb ground pork
3 tablespoons Sichuan spicy bean paste (辣豆瓣酱)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 tablespoons chili oil
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns (roasted and ground to powder)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon fermented black beans (rinsed and pounded)
2 stalks of leeks or scallions (chopped into 1 or 2-inch length)
2 gloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste
Cut the tofu into small pieces, drain the water from the tofu and set aside. Heat up a wok and pour in the cooking oil and chili oil. Add the chopped garlic, ground pork, spicy bean paste and stir-fry until the pork is half-done. Then add in chili powder, soy sauce, fermented black beans and stir-fry until aromatic. Add in the tofu and water; stir gently to blend the tofu (don’t break them) well with the sauce. Lower the heat and simmer for about 3-5 mins or until the sauce thickens. Add in the roasted Sichuan peppercorn powder and chopped scallions. Gently stir and blend well. Dish out and serve hot.
- To tone down the numbing spiciness of this dish, use less roasted sichuan peppercorn powder, chili powder, and chili oil. Adjust them to fit your palate.
- Mo Po Tofu (麻婆豆腐) literally means “Pock-Marked Old Lady Tofu” (I know!). You can read about the origin of this dish here.
- The Ma Po Tofu served at Chinese restaurants in the US has been adapted to appeal to local taste–the level of numbing spiciness is largely toned down.