Chef Wang taught us how to make Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 in our last cooking class and I have decided to try out his method before I forget. I have been making my own version of the dish for a while now, but his method is even easier with fantastic results which is much appreciated in this household.
He demonstrated how to remove tofu cleanly from its plastic box - to many oohs and ahs from the audience. It basically involved a bit of tapping and shaking.
Then we were told that in good restaurants like his, they cook their tofu before using it. This helps to remove any smell or taste from the soy beans, and cooking the bean curd beforehand also means that it would be less likely to break later.
Mapo Tofu :
2 packets of firm silky tofu
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 slice fresh ginger (minced)
150g minced pork
2 tbsp chilli bean sauce 辣豆瓣醬
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
chicken stock or water
1-2 tbsp chilli oil
1 tbsp szechuan peppercorns (crushed)
1 tbsp spring onions (chopped)
Marinate the pork with a bit of salt, pepper, cooking wine and light soy sauce. Set aside for at least an hour.
Slice the tofu into small cubes. Bring a wok of water to the boil and gently slide the sliced tofu into it. Simmer for about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat some vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan and fry the ginger and garlic till fragrant. Add the meat and stir fry till it's cooked. Add the chilli bean sauce and mix well. Chef Wang uses mainly Lee Kum Kee sauces but I have decided to go for the cheaper Lao Gan Ma 老干妈 brand. And instead of touban paste I've opted for fragrant chilli paste. The former however will give one a brighter, lighter red coloured sauce.
Add in the stock, dark soy sauce and sugar. Stir to mix well and simmer for a few minutes.
Gently slide in the cooked tofu after having ladled up half of the minced meat. Return the meat on top of the tofu. Do not stir.
Simmer the tofu for a few minutes to allow it to absorb the sauce. When ready to serve drizzle over the cornstarch solution to thicken the sauce, making sure that the solution is not too thick. Do not stir, just shake the pan a few times.
Gently scoop out the tofu and the sauce (I had too much of it - but liked it that way) onto a serving dish. Drizzle the chilli oil and sprinkle the crushed szechuan peppercorns and spring onions over the dish. Serve hot with steamed rice. The szechuan peppercorns give the dish its distinctive numbing hot taste and according to the chef is best added only before serving the dish.