Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jun 15, 2010: Tofu Tuesday - LOP Mapo Tofu

I'm familiar with Cantonese cooking. I wanted to expand my Chinese cooking horizons. I found a book in the library Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop. I abbreviated the title of the book as, "LOP".

Sichuanese cooking has a reputation of being loaded with peppers and spicy. Spicy food sounds good to me!

So for Tofu Tuesday, I made the classic dish, Mapo Tofu.

Mapo Tofu
1 block bean curd (around 16 oz), cut into 1 in cubes
2 Leeks, cut into thin diagonal slices
1/2 cup peanut oil [Yes, that's half a cup!]
6 ounces ground beef [I used chicken]
2.5 Tbsp chili bean paste
1 Tbsp fermented black beans
2 tsp ground Sichuanese chiles (optional) [I used Japanese Chiles]
1 cup stock
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce
4 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 6 Tbsp cold water [I only used about 1 T of the slurry]
1/2 tsp roasted Sichuan peppercorn, ground

1) Soak the tofu cubes in salted boiling water. That's salted water brought to a boil... Soak time was about 20 minutes while I prepped the other ingredients.

2. The recipe called for beef, but chicken breast was at 1/3rd of the cost.
Chicken was cooked in the 1/2 C of oil at medium heat.

3. After the chicken has browned, add the chili paste, chili flakes, black beans. Cook until fragrant.

4. Add the drained tofu, stock and let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes... to allow the flavors infuse into the tofu. Add the leeks and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Thicken with the cornstarch mixture.

5. Garnish with the ground peppercorn.

Restaurant Sichuan food is much more spicier. However, this version gives a nice tingle to the lips and the fermented black beans offers a nice complement.

The red oil bathing the dish seemed a bit much. Based upon the amount of oil left in the dish, I could probably cut the oil by 2/3rds. Would it effect the dish?

Overall, a good dish.

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