Cody and I were over at his sister’s for dinner the other day, and the moment he saw that his sister’s husband had cooked up ma po tofu, he immediately pointed at it and said, “Ma po tofu! You have got to make that next.” Ma po tofu is a spicy dish made with tofu and ground pork – its intense flavors burst out in your first bite, and you can’t help but keep eating it! Traditionally, this dish is as hot as you can make it, but since I can only take a moderate spice level, I adjusted the recipe to fit my palette.
Serves 4, takes ~30 min
1 (14-oz) pack tofu
Few pinches of salt
2 tbsp minced ginger (~2″ piece)
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 stalks green onion
1/2 lb ground pork
2 tbsp chili bean paste
1/4 cup chicken broth
Splash of shao xing jiu 绍兴酒 (chinese rice wine)
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup hong you 紅油 (red chili oil)
2 diced chilies (I used 1 red and 1 green)
1/2 tsp crushed szechuan peppers
2 tbsp cornstarch + 6 tbsp water
Step 1: Cut the tofu into 1/2 -1 inch squares. Place in a pot with a few pinches of salt, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Step 2: Dice the green onion stalks, separating the white and green parts. Stir fry the white parts of the green onion over medium-high heat, along with the garlic and ginger. Add in the pork and fry until cooked.
Step 3: Add the chili bean paste, chicken broth, and rice wine. After 3-4 minutes, add the soy sauce and red chili oil. Let it sit for another 3-4 minutes.
At this point, your tofu should be ready. Drain, and cool with iced water. You can dry the tofu with paper towels if you’d like.
Step 4: Add in the chopped chilies, frying for 1-2 minutes, then add in the tofu. Mix it up until all the tofu is coated with the sauce, and let it sit for at least 5 minutes, occasionally stirring/mixing.
Step 5: Mix in the green parts of the green onion. Then, in a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water, then pour it into the ma po tofu, stirring to bring it all together.