Chinese Recipes: Traditional Sichuan Mapo Spicy Tofu

Mapo Tofu is one of the classic Chinese food recipes, a favorite Sichuan specialty. It is hot and spicy. (Flashon-Studio/Dreamstime)
Mapo Tofu is one of the classic Chinese food recipes, a favorite Sichuan specialty. It is hot and spicy. (Flashon-Studio/Dreamstime)

Mapo Tofu is one of the classic Chinese food recipes, a favorite Sichuan specialty. It is hot and spicy. According to legend, it was first created in the late 1800s by a Chinese lady who was reputed to have had a pockmarked face, hence the Chinese name for this dish: Mapo Tofu.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp Shao-Hsing cooking rice wine (available at Asian markets)

1 1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tbsp hot bean paste

2 tbsp soy sauce

salt to taste

1 lb regular or medium-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 1/2 to 2 tbsp oil

1/2 lb ground pork shoulder (preferably 75 percent lean)

1 tbsp finely minced garlic

1 tbsp finely minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 to 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn powder

3 tbsp thinly sliced scallions

Preparation:

  1. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth to break up the pork.
  2. Heat a wok or pan for about 45 seconds over high heat, and add the oil; spread the oil to coat the wok.
  3. Put the pork into the wok and fry for about 1 minute. Push it to one side of the wok. Then add the sesame oil, ginger, garlic, hot bean paste, and Sichuan peppercorn powder to the empty side of the wok for about 10 seconds, and then mix it with the pork.
  4. Add the Shao-hsing cooking wine.
  5. Add the tofu to the wok, then add the salt and the rest of the chicken broth. Stir and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the dissolved cornstarch to the tofu, stir, return to a boil, and then add the scallion.
  7. Serve and enjoy this spicy Sichuan dish.

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