Mapo tofu is one of the most well-known dishes from Sichuan in southwest China, made of tofu, minced pork, and spices.
A plate of well-cooked mapo tofu is aromatic, soft, and numbingly spicy. That fiery sensation, which is quite addictive to some, comes from peppercorn, a local spice from the region. Fermented bean paste, or doubanjiang, adds umami to the dish.
The area is known for being humid, so people eat spicy food to get rid of the damp feeling in their bodies. It is said that the dish was created by a grandmother during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1912). “Ma” refers to the pockmarks on her face, while “po” means old woman in Chinese.
This recipe is part of the Goldthread series “A Basic Chinese Dish'' that teaches you how to cook classic, simple dishes from China that are so easy to make, they’re like learning your ABCDs.
Cut tofu into small cubes.
Heat a pot of salted water and add the tofu cubes. Cover with a lid. Remove the tofu when the water is almost boiling.
Heat up oil. Saute the garlic, grated ginger, and minced pork.
Add the chopped dried chilli and peppercorns.
Season with fermented bean paste, salt, sugar, and soy sauce.
Toss in the blanched tofu, add some water to cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Thicken the sauce with a mixture of cornstarch (1 tsp) and water (3 tsp). You can add more cornstarch if you like the sauce thicker. Or you can add more water if you like the sauce thinner.
Sprinkle over chopped scallion and serve with rice.