07/10/2015

MA PO TOFU 麻婆豆腐 {RECIPE}

I. LOVE. TOFU. No, seriously. Not a week goes by that my fridge is not stocked with tofu. I use it in my cooking so often that a few of Steve's friends make fun of him for having tofu so often. Little did they know that tofu not only has a range of health benefits, it is also an incredibly versatile ingredient - dunk it in a bowl of soup, braise it or simply fry it, like what I did the other day:


Ma Po Tofu originate in the Sichuan province of China. Over the years, it has become a restaurant favourite. Known for its fiery red hue of chilli oil and tongue-numbing sensation, Ma Po Tofu is always a crowd favourite.

This recipe is from one of my favourite food blogs, The Woks of Life, and it is not too difficult to put you off cooking it. It even has a recipe to make your own chilli oil! Jus bring a healthy appetite and maybe a cup of soy milk to curb the tongue-numbing sensation from the Sichuan peppercorn.


Ma Po Tofu

(Recipe from The Woks Of Life)

Ingredients:

½ cup oil, divided
Small handful of dried red chili peppers, thinly sliced for fresh and roughly chopped for dried
1 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, crushed (half chunky, half powdery)
3 tablespoons ginger, finely minced
3 tablespoons garlic, finely minced
½ cup of ground pork
1-2 tablespoons spicy bean sauce (豆瓣酱)
Water or chicken broth
1 package silken tofu, cut into 1.5” cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch
1 large scallion, finely chopped

Method:

First, we make the chili oil. If you have bottled chili oil, you can skip this step. Heat your wok or a small saucepan on low. Add ¼ cup of the oil and throw in the peppers. Stir occasionally until the oil is bright red. Make sure that the peppers don’t brown! Once the oil is red (or reddish) remove from heat and set aside. You can do this in advance and let it sit on the counter. The longer it sits, the redder it’ll get.

Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in your wok over medium heat. Add your Sichuan pepper corns and stir occasionally. Let them fry very gently. You want to release the flavors without browning the peppercorns. Once the peppercorns have cooked for 2-3 minutes, add the ginger. Turn up the heat to medium high in order to lightly fry the ginger. Then add the garlic. Stir 2-3 times, then turn up the heat and add the ground pork. Break up the meat and fry it until it’s cooked through.

Add the spicy bean sauce to the mixture and stir it in well. Add 2/3 cups of water or chicken broth to the wok and stir. Let this simmer for a minute or so. While that's happening, ready your tofu and also put a ¼ cup of water in a small bowl with your corn starch and mix it with a fork—make sure all the clumps are broken up.

Add the cornstarch mixture to your sauce and stir. Let it bubble away until the sauce starts to thicken. Then add your chili oil from before—peppers and all! Stir the oil into the sauce, and then add the tofu. Use your spatula to gently toss the tofu in the sauce. Let everything cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the scallions and stir until the scallions are juuust wilted. You can also set aside a small handful to sprinkle over the top of the finished dish. Serve hot with a nice mounded bowl of white rice!

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