Ma po tofu is one of my favorite Chinese dishes and is surprisingly very easy to make (thanks to the recipe by a fellow Seattle food blogger Nook & Pantry). The two key ingredients for this classic Szechuan dish are Szechuan peppercorns and chili garlic sauce, both of which can be found in local Asian markets (if you live in the Seattle area, try Uwajimaya). Szechuan peppercorns are very tongue-numbing, so be sure to adjust the amount for your tolerance level.
Szechuan peppers are reddish in color and very fragrant.
Important final step: make sure to mix cornstarch with water before you pour it into the tofu mixture.
(Adapted from Nook & Pantry; makes 2-4 servings)
1 block soft tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 oz ground pork
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
1 tbsp soy sauce
6 green onions, chop the white part and cut the green part into 3-inch sections
2 tsp ginger, minced
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water
Salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat.
- Cook the ginger, the white part of green onions and Szechuan peppers for a minute.
- Add the pork, garlic, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, white pepper and sugar and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the tofu, the rest of the green onions, chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After simmering, add the cornstarch mixture and bring up to a simmer again and cook until thickened.
- Garnish with chopped green onions.