Mapo Tofu is one of the easiest Chinese dishes to make and one of the first dishes I learnt to cook when I was a teen. It doesn’t require the finesse that comes with experience in cooking Chinese food, and it doesn’t require any Chinese cooking equipment. As long as you use the specified ingredients, the recipe is basically fool-proof and it also comes like it was made in a professional restaurant every single time.
- Minced Pork (250g)
- Hard Tofu (500g)
- Spring Onion (5 stalks)
- Garlic (3t, minced)
- Toban Sauce
- Chili Sauce
- Peanut Butter
- Sesame Oil
- Corn Starch
- Soya Sauce
- Chinese Wine
- In a bowl stir 3T cold water with 1T soya sauce and1T Chinese wine. Add 1t corn starch and mix until the corn starch dissolves. Pour the mixture into the minced pork and mix well, followed by 1T sesame oil and a second round of mixing.
- Allow the meat to marinate for about fifteen minutes while you dice the spring onions into 1/8th inch pieces.
- Prepare a mixture of 3/4 cup cold water, 1T corn starch and 1t sugar. Set this aside for later use.
- Heat up 2T of Sesame Oil in a large pan and stir fry the pork. Don’t put the meat in until the pan is really hot. Press down on the meat to make sure there are no large clumps. When the pork is cooked push the meat to the sides of the pan.
- In the hole at the centre of the pan add 1T of Sesame Oil, and 3t of minced garlic. When the garlic splutters, add 4t Toban Sauce and 2t Chili Sauce and mix in a circular motion.
- Next incorporate 4t of tahini and 2t of peanut butter into the Chili-bean-garlic mixture.
- Pour in the corn starch water you prepared earlier and stir everything together, including the pork. When the contents of the pan begin to boil, turn the heat down to low and allow the mixture to simmer.
- Cut the tofu into 1/4 inch cubes. Add this to the pan. Add the spring onion at this stage and continue to simmer, stirring lightly once in a while. When everything has boiled down to a rich sauce turn off the heat. Taste to check if you need to add soya sauce or sugar, then leave the pan covered for a while while the dish matures.
- Reheat and serve with steamed white rice.
- On the top left is the Toban Sauce, or Doubanjiang in anglicised Chinese. Its a paste of fermented beans and chillies that you must use to get the Mapo flavour right. You can find it at any Chinese grocer.
- On the top right is the Chili Sauce I used, but you can use other types. Just make sure that its not the type that comes in a bottle and looks like ketchup. What you want is a pure sauce made from chilies with no starch or tomatoes added.
- Tofu will come in blocks and it is best to just flip the tofu from the container onto your palm over the sink, discarding all the water that comes with the Tofu. Then cut the Tofu on your hand, with a butter knife. If you use a cutting board, some of the tofu is bound to disintegrate.