If you’re unfamiliar with what exactly Ma Po Tofu is and how to make it worry no more! In this article, I’m going to give you the basics on what Ma Po Tofu is and include a 5-star recipe so you can try it for yourself at home! Enjoy!
What Is Ma Po Tofu?
Ma Po Tofu is a popular traditional Chinese dish. Originating in the Sichuan province, this dish comprises of tofu set in a spicy sauce, red suspension, based on doubon (fermented bean and chili paste), douchi (fermented black beans), and minced meat (typically beef).
Sometimes translated as “pockmarked grandma’s beancurd,” Ma Po Tofu is traditionally very spicy. It is often said that it also carries the characteristics of those Sichuan flavors.
Although the traditional dish uses minced meat, several variations have been made so it can cater to vegetarians. Feel free to swap out the ground beef shiitake mushrooms or any other edible mushrooms!
How To Make It?
When preparing Ma Po Tofu, especially this recipe, the key lies in certain highlight ingredients and they are expected to be implemented correctly into the dish. The key ingredients here are: Doubanjiang, Sichuan Peppercorns (to give it the traditional Sichuan taste), and homemade chili oil! These ingredients are what make Ma Po Tofu what it is!
Although you can follow the steps and ingredients for this particular recipe, it really is a customizable dish. Whether you want to skip the rice and add in greens for a healthier alternative, there is so much versatility when it comes to Ma Po tofu.
The ingredients are broken down into two separate categories: what you will need for the marinade and what you will need for the braising.
For the marinade, you will need:
- 120 grams (4 ounces) ground meat
- 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
For the braising, you will need:
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons Doubanjiang
- 2 tablespoons green onion (chopped)
- 1 block (14 oz.) firm or medium-firm tofu
- 1 cup water (or chicken stock)
- 2 teaspoons homemade chili oil
- 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon green part of chopped green onion (for garnish)
- Steamed rice, to serve (optional)
The preparation is rather quick. Taking only 10 minutes of time for preparation and 15 minutes of cooking, ma po tofu takes up less than half an hour of your day to whip up!
Your instructions are as followed:
- Combine ground meat, cooking wine, soy sauce, and ginger in a bowl. Mix well.
- Combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil and Sichuan peppercorns in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the Sichuan peppercorns turn dark brown and crispy, scoop them out with a spatula and transfer into a bowl layered with a paper towel to soak extra oil. Save to use to garnish the dish.
- When the oil is hot, add ground meat and Doubanjiang. Stir-fry over medium heat with a spatula, until pork is evenly coated with Doubanjiang. Add green onion and stir fry for another minute.
- Spread tofu evenly on top of ground pork. Add chili oil, five-spice powder, and sugar. Pour in water and cook until bringing it to a simmer. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until tofu becomes tender and the sauce has reduced to half the original amount. Taste the tofu with some broth. Adjust seasoning by adding salt. If the dish is too spicy, add another teaspoon of sugar. Gently mix well with a spatula.
- Meanwhile, ground the fried Sichuan peppercorns (you used when heating up the oil) in a coffee grinder or by using mortar and pastel.
- Mix cornstarch water again until fully dissolved and swirl it into the skillet. Gently stir a few times with a spatula, until sauce thickens. Turn off heat and transfer everything to a bowl.
- Garnish with green onion and a small pinch the ground Sichuan peppercorns, if using. Serve warm over steamed rice or by itself as main.
Now that you have a brief background on what Ma Po Tofu is and an amazing recipe, you have no excuse not to try it out for yourself! Feel free to let us know if you tried this one out at home!