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Ma Po Tofu

If you have ever been to Asia you've likely come across this dish at some point. There's a thousand variations but all with a few key ingredients that really bring out the flavour that we are looking for here. I make this when it gets cold where we live. The heat and spice of this dish will bring you right back to life. If you want an authentic version, you're going to need to make a stop at an Asian grocer. The ingredients you'll find in a standard grocery store won't work nearly as well. Especially the Do-Chi and the Dou-ban-jiang which are crucial to getting this right. 

 Gather the Good stuff

  1. 300-400g Tofu. (Don't use super firm tofu, you want it a little soft). Often, especially at Asian grocery stores you can find a variety called Silken Tofu. I happen to think it is perfect but you do you. 
  2. 100-200g minced pork (you can substitute beef as well)
  3. 1.5 Tbsp Dou Chi - Little fermented asian black beans. 
  4. 1 Tbsp Doubanjiang (or for the spicier version La-doubanjiang) - an Asian bean past
  5. 1.5 Tbsp sesame oil
  6. 1/2 tsp. salt
  7. 1/2 tbsp Sichuan Pepper 
  8. 1 tbsp soy sauce
  9. 400ml - broth at room temp (seriously, don't pour cold broth into your dish)
  10. 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  11. 2 scallions - diced
  12. 2 garlic cloves 
  13. 1 Tbsp ginger - diced finely  
  14. 2 and 1/2 tablespoon water
  15. 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Optional Ingredients 

    1. 1 tsp sugar 
    2. red pepper flakes to taste 

Putting this Together 

  1. First add a little sesame oil to your pork and mix well. let it sit for 10-15 minutes 
  2. add a little vegetable oil to a heavy pan on medium heat 
  3. Brown the meat once the oil is hot. Remove after 5 minutes or so and set aside in a bowl. Retain the oil and fat in the pan 
  4. Cut tofu into cubes. Depending on how soft your tofu is, you may need to pre-boil it quickly for 2 minutes to firm it up a bit. 
  5. Increase the heat to medium high. Add doubanjiang to the oil in the pan and fry for 1-2 minutes until it starts to get fragrant
  6. Add scallion whites, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and fry for 1-2 minutes more being careful not too over cook the garlic
  7. Add the fermented beans and continue to fry for another 1 minute
  8. Add broth to the pan and add soy sauce. Bring to a boil 
  9. Add tofu to the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer gently for 10 minutes  
  10. halfway through the simmering add in the Sichuan pepper 
  11.  Mix cornstarch into about 3 Tbsp water and whisk out any lumps. Add to the pan and stir
  12. Taste and adjust for spice and salt as desired 
  13. Add green parts of the scallions and serve immediately over rice 


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