Here is an authentic and delicious recipe for Mapo Tofu, a spicy specialty from the Sichuan province of China. Savor the combination of tofu, ground beef and chili bean paste in this classic Chinese dish.
1 block soft tofu
4 oz ground beef
3 tablespoons chili bean paste
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
1 -2 dried, whole chilis
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
3 slices of ginger
4 green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt to taste
Pat the tofu dry using paper towels and cut into 1 inch cubes. Separate the white parts from the green onions and set aside. Chop the green parts into 3 inch long sections.
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over a moderate heat. Add the ground beef and cook until the beef is browned. Sieve the beef to drain the fat and set aside.
In the same wok or skillet, heat the remaining vegetable oil over a moderate heat. Add the ginger slices, white parts of the green onion, whole chilis and ground Sichuan peppercorns and cook for about a minute. Add the ground beef, the chili bean paste, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, white pepper, and sugar, and cook for another minute or two. Next add the tofu, green parts of the green onions, chicken stock and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally but make sure the tofu does not disintegrate. While the stock is simmering, mix the cornstarch with a little water. Add the cornstarch to the stock and cook till it thickens.
Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve with white rice.
You can vary the number of dried chilis. For a really spicy tofu, use about 5-6 chilis.