Ma Po Tofu
Pockmarked Mother Chen’s Tofu. Not a terribly becoming name is it? But whoever turns their nose up at this spicy tumble of silken tofu and pork belly is missing out (and anyway, more for me!)
Sichuan Province is high on my list of places to return to. Pandas, relaxing tea drinking and spicy, interesting food. But for the time being I just have to think about those hilariously fun Pandas, and cook Sichuan food for myself (but not for long! Terrifying change could see me transplanted into downtown China much sooner than expected).
But this version of the traditional Ma Po Tofu is not authentic. It is dulled down spice-wise to make it more enjoyable for those of us who don’t eat mouth explodingly spicy food constantly. That said, it is still chilli hot, and has that wonderful spicy, tingling mala (麻辣) experience that I love so much.
Don’t judge the dish by its name, adjust the heat to your taste and travel to Sichuan Province for dinner.
Ma Po Tofu
adapted from Balance and Harmony: Asian Food by Neil Perry.
300g silken tofu, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons oil
200g minced pork belly (I minced the pork belly myself, so it was more like a brunoise of pork belly, just the way I like it)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
2 tablespoons hot bean paste
125ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon shaoxing wine
2 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon sugar
pinch sea salt
2 pinches Sichuan pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil.
Heat oil in a pan until smoking, add the pork and fry until browned. Add the garlic, spring onions and bean paste and cook, stirring until fragrant. Add the stock, wine, soy, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil then add the tofu. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer to allow the sauce to thicken. Don’t stir too vigorously as you want to keep the tofu intact.
Add the Sichuan pepper and sesame oil and serve.