Spatula, Spoon and Saturday

Eating and Cooking all the things in Melbourne

Mapo Tofu

This is one of my favourite Chinese dishes of all time. Thanks to my new (well, kinda new) Chinese cookbook, I think I have finally managed to crack the mapo tofu sauce. I used to buy those expensive Japanese pre-made sauce packets. While good, they are rather expensive (around $4-5) and they’re definitely not spicy at all!

To cut the long story short, this is what you need for a big serving of mapo tofu for four lucky people:

  1. 100 g. minced pork
  2. 2 packets of firm tofu*
  3. 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
  4. 2 tbsp of shao hsing rice wine
  5. 1 tsp of sesame seed oil
  6. 2 cloves of garlic
  7. 2 tsp of chopped ginger
  8. 1 red chilli
  9. 1 tsp szechuan pepper (husks removed and crushed)
  10. 1 tsp of tomato ketchup
  11. 2 tbsp of chilli bean sauce (picture
  12. 4 spring onion, chopped
  13. 1 tbsp of corn flour mixed with 2 tbsp of water

Marinade the minced pork with 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of rice wine and 1 tsp of sesame oil. Set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop and crush some ginger and garlic. Cut the chilli into slices. Cut the tofu into cubes.

Heat a little bit of oil in a non-stick frying pan or a wok on very high heat and fry the mince with ginger and garlic until it’s golden. Add sliced chilli, the rest of the soy sauce and rice wine. Add 1/3 cup of water and bring to boil. I use the tomato ketchup to round off the taste but you can use a pinch of sugar instead. Since the dish is strong-flavoured, you wouldn’t notice the tomato taste while it will give you nicely rounded taste without the dish being at all sweet. Hardly traditional but I do like the balance of flavours in my dishes.

Just taste the sauce and see how you feel. It should be quite strong because you’re about to add a lot of tofu to it.

Thicken the sauce with corn flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired thickness. Add water if it’s too thick. Bring the sauce to boil and add the tofu and the spring onions. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with the szechuan pepper.

* This is what you get at your local supermarket in the tofu/fake dairy section. Getting tofu at your Asian gricery store is a bit more challenging. You basically want a tofu that’s soft enough. So don’t get those hard tofu cakes, sometimes labelled as firm. But also firm enough so that it doesn’t fall apart, so don’t get silken tofu.

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