Mapo tofu is a popular Chinese dish, originally from the Sichuan Province of China. As you might know, Sichuan is famous for the tongue numbling spicy food. Many of their dishes feature their signature spice of the region––the Sichuan Peppercorn. This flavourful dish is best eaten with fragrant rice.
Termed as ‘Mala‘, which means the spicy and numbing flavour in Chinese cuisine, which is made from Sichuan peppercorn, chili pepper and various spices simmered with oil. It not only numbs your tongue, and probably also burns your tummy. The mapo tofu, which literally means ‘pockmarked old woman beancurd’, is regarded as a regional dish for Chongqing and Sichuan cuisine in China. The dish is also one of the most popular sauces in Chinese cuisine and spawned many variants.
Tofu, aka bean curd, comes in various form and texture and is a very versatile ingredient. Made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the curbs into solid white blocks of varying softness: silken, soft, firm, extra firm. Tofu takes on the taste of the seasoning added to the dish. I specially love silken tofu, a smooth and soft jelly-like curd I can easily slurp up. Nutritionally, tofu is very low in calories yet very high in protein, iron, calcium or magnesium. I have used it in stir fry dishes, soups, curries, steamed with meat, hotpot (aka steamboat in Singapore), salad, or even eat it cold (just add oyster sauce and shallots–another quick and easy dish but looks great and really refreshing).
I am not a big fan of Chinese food, and especially not Sichuan styled dishes as I have had really bad experience with mala hotpot but this mapo tofu made by my sister is super delicious and the spiciness is dialled to the minimal, making it much more acceptable. I honestly didn’t think I’ll like it as much and she really proved me wrong. I had quite a few servings with jasmine rice, which is rare since I’m very conscious of consuming too much carbo in my diet. I had the chance to see how she made it. It’s very easy and quick to make. So here goes.
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp ginger minced
- 300 g silken tofu cut into regular cubes
- 200 g ground pork
- 1 stalk spring onion chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
- ½ tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp chili bean paste
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp Chinese wine (Hua Tiao)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- Mix all the ingredients for the seasoning sauce together into a consistent mixture. If you prefer a sweeter flavour to the sauce, you may add about 1 teaspoon of nectar, honey or sugar.
- Heat up the oil in a pan or wok over medium fire.
- Add ginger first and stir fry until the aroma turns fragrant with ginger.
- Add garlic to the oil and stir fry until the aroma turns fragrant.
- Add the ground pork. Make sure the ground meat is broken into smaller minced pieces while cooking as minced meat tend to stick together into thicken pieces. Stir fry the meat for about 3 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
- Add in the sauce mixture and stir fry for about 1 minutes, you’ll notice the colour change to reddish.
- Add the cut tofu and gently stir it with the meat and sauce, be careful as the silken tofu is very soft and tends to break up easily.
- Stir fry for about 1/2 minute or until the mixture turns to bubble.
- Sprinkle the chopped spring onions over the dish.
- Serve and enjoy!