Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) is one of the Chinese dishes that I make all the time. It’s a quick and easy weeknight dish that’s packed with wonderful flavors and nutrients. It’s totally my kind of comfort food. Many of my friends and readers had been asking me to post more easy, Asian, savory recipes so they can prepare for their families. So here we go, my friends. Best of all, this is one satisfying dish to prepare that won’t break the bank! Forget about the take-outs. You’ll have this on your family table before you finish placing an order over the phone!
There are a few tips about Chinese stir-fry. It’s quick, easy, and everything cook in a rather fast pace over high-heat. So, the key is to have all the ingredients pre-prepped. That way, the ingredients are ready whenever you need to add them to the wok/frying pan. Don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need a wok to make Chinese stir-fry. In this particular recipe, I prefer a non-stick pan over the wok.
One of the main ingredient for Mapo Tofu is the chili sauce. Different recipes might call for different type of chili sauce. I personally prefer this (see below) Chili Bean Sauce (ToBan Djan 辣豆瓣醬). It’s made with chili and fermented soy beans. The fermented soy beans add a wonderful depth of flavor that you can’t get from the regular chili sauce.
Of course another main ingredient in Mapo Tofo is the Tofu. There are many choices and brands out there. I grew up with the Vitasoy brand when I was in Hong Kong, so it’s my choice of Tofu whenever they are available. When cooking Mapo Tofu, I personally prefer to use Silken Tofu. Silken Tofu, as it’s name suggested, is silky, smooth, velvety and melt in your mouth kind of tofu. It’s also very fragile. As suggested on the package, it’s better to use in cold dishes, such as salad, soup, or steaming. These types of recipes/cooking methods require less stirring.
On the other hand, my hubby always prefers the Soft Tofu, it said “soft” on the package, but actually it’s pretty firm. If you get it with any other brand, it’s the “firm” one that you want to use. As suggested on the package, this type of Tofu is good with cooking methods of pan fry or stir fry because the firmer texture in this tofu can withstand the mixing and stirring in the pan without falling apart. Firm tofu also has a stronger tofu taste because it contains less water. So, the choice is yours, there’s no right or wrong Tofu. I almost always use firm tofu for Mapo Tofu now, since that’s what 'the Boss' prefers.
As you can see from the pictures below, the tofu holds its shape pretty well even after all the stirring. So, I guess 'the Boss' is right in his choice of tofu.
Are you ready to get into the kitchen with me? It’s going to be quick, I promise. So, here’s what I did:
1) In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients of the Mapo Tofu sauce together until sugar dissolved and there’s no lump from the corn starch, set aside.
2) The fresh tofu usually packed with a bit of water, drain it well.
3) Cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. This will be a good time to chop the green onions, if using.
4) Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat.
5) Sauté pork until golden brown and cooked through; with a wooden spoon/spatula, break ground pork into small pieces when browning.
6) When the ground pork is cooked through, pour the Mapo Tofu sauce into the meat, stir well and cook until the sauce is thicken, about 2 minutes. The sauce will be thick, do NOT attempt to add any water. After the tofu is in, it’ll create enough sauce, trust me on this one.
7) Fold in tofu and be careful not to break them up too much.
8) When tofu is heated through, remove from heat and stir in green onions.
See, quick and easy right? This sauce is simple and divine! So, stop spending/wasting $3+ for a small package of Mapo Tofu sauce when you can easily make your own at home. I used to spend that money for the longest time, until I realized how easy it is to create the sauce from scratch. The good thing about building the sauce from scratch is that you'd know exactly the ingredients that were used.
I make this for my kids all the time, minus the chili sauce. So, I always double the ingredients and make one that’s non-spicy for the kids. It’s just as wonderful.
If there are any particular Asian dishes that you would love me to post on the blog, feel free to leave a comment or email me directly.
Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐): (Printable Recipe)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1 (15 oz) package Firm Tofu, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 green onions, chopped
Ingredient for the Mapo Tofu Sauce:
1 tablespoon Chili Bean Sauce (ToBan Djan 辣豆瓣醬)
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon ShaoHsing rice wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients of the Mapo Tofu sauce together until sugar dissolved and there’s no lump from the corn starch, set aside.
In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over high heat. Sauté pork until golden brown and cooked through; with a wooden spoon/spatula, break ground pork into small pieces when browning.
When the ground pork is cooked through, pour the Mapo Tofu sauce into the meat, stir well and cook until the sauce is thicken, about 2 minutes. Fold in tofu and be careful not to break them up too much. When tofu is heated through, remove from heat and stir in green onions. Best serve hot over rice.