In my last post, I detailed the history of Mapo Tofu. I loved researching for that story because it was about a woman who didn’t bend down to rules and made history because of her persistence and intelligence. I think we all can see some traits of ourselves in people like Mapo.
In my trip to Chengdu, I paid a special visit to Mapo’s original food stand (now a restaurant with many branches across the Sichuan Province). I asked for their original recipe, and I was thrilled to receive it. Below is my translation, accompanied by a detailed step-by-step cooking images. (Thank you, mom for being my hand model!)
Medium-firm Tofu – 1 box
Scallion – 1 strip, minced
Ground Beef – 2~3 Tbsp
Pi’xian Spicy Fermented Bean Paste – 1 Tbsp
Soy sauce – 1 Tsp
Whole red Sichuan Peppercorn
Ground Sichuan Peppercorn
Water – 1/2 cup
Corn Starch – 2 Tsp, to make a slurry
1. Cube the tofu into 1-inch squares.
2. In a pot of boiling water, add plenty salt and quickly blanch the tofu (for about 2 minutes). This step will help the Tofu hold its shape and better absorb flavor.
3. In a flat-bottom pan, on medium-high heat, add oil. When the oil just start getting hot (place your palm over the pan and you can feel the heat), add Pi’xian Spicy Fermented Bean Paste. Quickly stir it to release its fragrant and color.
4. Add scallion and whole sichuan peppercorns, keep stir-frying until the fragrant is very pronounced. Then add ground beef.
5. When beef has turn brown, add water.
6. Once the water starts to boil, add tofu. (Take a spoon and taste the soup at this stage. Adjust the salt-level as needed. The soup would taste slight under-salted).
7. Once the water evaporated to the desired stage (I like mine none-soupy), turn off the heat. Add cornstarch slurry. Mix well.
8. Plate. Add ground Sichuan peppercorn and bright green minced scallion on the dining table for fragrance and a dramatic presentation. Serve hot.