Ma Po Tofu is one of my go-to dishes for Szechuan restaurants, and it’s what I use as a litmus test for their quality. This is my attempt at a quick and easy home rendition. Is it strictly authentic? No. But it’s delicious and easy. The meat can be left out if you’d prefer a vegetarian version.
This recipe is based on the excellent (and much more authentic) recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt found at Serious Eats. Another great, authentic recipe can be found at The Mala Project, which is an excellent reference for Szechuan cooking, as well as a good resource for ingredients.
Cook Time: 15 minutes
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water
1 ½ pounds silken tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ pound ground beef (or pork, turkey, etc)
3 garlic cloves grated on a microplane
1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated on a microplane
2 tablespoons Xiaoxing wine
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 cup sliced mushrooms (preferably shiitakes)
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup Blank Slate Kitchen Szechuan Chili Oil
¼ cup finely sliced scallion greens
1/8 cup cilantro leaves
Mix corn starch and cold water until thoroughly combined. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add tofu and cook for 1 minute. Drain in a colander, being careful not to break up the tofu.
Heat oil in wok over high heat until smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute, then add ground meat and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add garlic and ginger and cook about 15 seconds. Add wine, soy sauce, and stock and bring to a boil. Mix in corn starch mixture and cook for 30 seconds until thickened. Add tofu and carefully fold in, trying not to break it. Stir in chili oil and half of scallions and simmer for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining scallions and cilantro and drizzle with more chili oil. Serve immediately with white rice.
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