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:
- 100 g. minced pork
- 2 packets of firm tofu*
- 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp of shao hsing rice wine
- 1 tsp of sesame seed oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tsp of chopped ginger
- 1 red chilli
- 1 tsp szechuan pepper (husks removed and crushed)
- 1 tsp of tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp of chilli bean sauce (picture
- 4 spring onion, chopped
- 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.