Mapo Tofu

A Weeknight Asian Comfort Dish

Although Mapo is a main dish born in the Chinese Sichuan style—with spicy heat as a main flavor—enjoy this milder, family friendly version. For most of us healthy cooks, it’s a strange bedfellow to have pork marry to tofu; change it out with soaked and minced dried shiitake mushrooms. This dish has complex flavors with very little effort.

INGREDIENTS: Serves 4-5

  • tofu – 1 LB, [1 tub], 1/2″ cubes, soft or silken [if available]
  • pork – 1/2 LB, ground, or 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, soaked, minced
  • oil – 1 TBS, neutral
  • ginger – 1 TBS, minced
  • garlic – 1 TBS, minced
  • chili flakes* – 1/2 tsp or more, [to taste]
  • scallions – 1/2 cup, green portion, thinly sliced
  • soy sauce – 2 TBS
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • fermented black beans* – [optional], 1 TBS
  • salt – season at the end, to taste
  • cilantro – 1/2 cup, chopped

* Chili flakes – Locate these items in an Asian market. Choose any number of chili varieties. The traditional recipe calls for chili bean paste, which is quite spicy. Fermented black beans are dried spice, and lend a funky flavor [I like], but is not necessary.

Nice and Neat – Ready for Heat

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare the ingredients and have at the ready
  2. In a wok or a large skillet heat the oil and lightly sauté the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes—30 seconds
  3. Add the pork and break up into crumbles until most of the pink color is cooked out
  4. Add in a 1/2 cup water, soy sauce, and tofu and simmer to heat through
  5. Taste the sauce and adjust for spiciness and salt
  6. Top with sliced scallion greens and cilantro

Mapo Tofu is a Great Base Dish for a Rice Bowl or Served Over Rice

Brown Rice, Mapo, Gomasio, & Sauerkraut

Recipe adapted, original by Mark Bittman, NYTimes

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