Mapo tofu is a classic Szechuan dish that features tofu covered in spices and minced meat. It pairs extremely well with rice, which is probably necessary, given how spicy this dish can get.
The name literally translates to “pockmarked-old-lady tofu”, probably inspired by the person who made this dish. And now you know!
Mapo tofu is a staple in many Chinese restaurants, but it is also very easy to make at home. Try this lip-smacking recipe for a dish that’s perfect for dinner – though be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
• 550g silken tofu
• 100g ground pork
• 3 tablespoons Szechuan spicy bean paste
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 2 tablespoons cooking oil
• 3 tablespoons chilli oil
• 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, roasted and ground to powder
• 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon fermented black beans (rinsed and pounded)
• 2 stalks leeks or spring onions, chopped into 2.5cm lengths
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1/2 cup water
• salt to taste
Drain the tofu, cut it into small pieces and set aside.
Heat a wok and pour in the cooking oil and chilli oil.
Add the chopped garlic, ground pork and spicy bean paste, and stir-fry until the pork is half done.
Add the chilli powder, soy sauce and fermented black beans. Stir-fry until aromatic.
Add the tofu and water; stir gently to blend the tofu with the sauce, but be careful not to break it.
Lower the heat and simmer for about 3-5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
Add the roasted Szechuan peppercorn powder and chopped spring onions. Gently stir to blend well.
Dish out and serve hot with steamed rice.
Tip: To reduce the spiciness of this dish, use less roasted Szechuan peppercorn powder, chilli powder and chilli oil. Adjust the ingredients to fit your palate.