I absolutely love Mapo Tofu, a classic Sichuan dish of simmered tofu and pork. My mother makes it every time I come home (from a nifty mix she gets from the Asian store 😉 ) My mother’s good friend and neighbor, Lily, who owns our favorite Chinese Restaurant (in Ohio), similarly makes it for me every time I stop in. I guess everyone back home knows my true loves…bacon and Mapo Tofu *winks*. So, imagine my delight while I am flipping through Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters Cookbook” and stumble upon a recipe for Mapo Tofu. While logic dictates that one can make it at home without the snazzy mix my mother uses, I had never tried it before. The result…deliciousness. I did use much more meat and red pepper flakes than the recipe called for but to each their own. Make it to your specifications and likes! Enjoy this Asian treat packed with lots of flavor and spice!
- 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil(could use less especially if using more meat)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, or to taste (I use 1-2 teaspoons depending on how hot I want it…*sizzle*)
- 4 oz ground pork (I used a full pound)
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions (can substitute chives/shallots if don’t have scallions/green onions)
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine but DRAIN off juice)
- 1/2 cup stock or water
- 12 oz firm silken tofu, cut into small cubes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
1. Put the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chile flakes and cook just until they begin to sizzle, less than a minutes. Add the pork and stir to break it up; cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses most of its pink color and beings to crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the scallions, tomatoes, and stock. Cook for a minute or two, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits of meat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring once or twice, until the tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes.
3. Stir in the soy sauce, taste and season with salt and more red chili flakes (if you want more heat). Garnish with cilantro and serve
**I serve it over brown rice but it can just as easily be tossed with brown rice noodles or whole wheat spaghetti. The whole dish only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and cook so start the rice or noodles first thing!
**A Variation from Bittman: Ma-Po Edamame – Substitute 3 cups fresh or frozen shelled edamame for the tofu. It will take 5 to 7 minutes of cooking at a gentle simmer for fresh edamame to become tender.