“I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”
“I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”

Based on my research, it seems to be a comfort dish that every Chinese grandma makes, so there are nearly as many versions. Here’s how I did mine - and it was praised:

Illustration for article titled MaPo Tofu

A pudgy Jew cooking Chinese food for two Japanese women - how hard can it be?

For the marinade

· 1/2 lb. or a bit more ground beef / pork / veal / chicken

· 3 tablespoons sake

· 3 tablespoons soy sauce

· 1 tablespoon minced ginger (or 1/2 tablespoon ginger powder)

For braising

· 2 teaspoons cornstarch

· 1 teaspoon hot Japanese chili oil and a couple squirts of sriracha or the stuff in the photo below (Nadasoso Shimato Garashi) or both


· 2-3 tablespoons peanut oil

· 3 tablespoons (spicy black bean sauce)

· 1 cup finely sliced leeks, sweet onions, or white part of green onion (or combine).


· Package firm tofu (cut into ¾ inch blocks) - roasted tofu if you can find it.

· 1 cup chicken stock (reduced from 3cups if time)

· 1 teaspoon sugar or to taste

· (optional) 1 tablespoon green part of chopped green onion for garnish


1. Combine ground beef, cooking sake, soy sauce, and ginger in a bowl. Mix well. Marinate for an hour or longer.


2. Combine cornstarch with 2 tablespoons warm water in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

3. Cut and prep tofu, leeks, and green onions / onions.

4. When oil is hot, add ground meat, then black bean sauce. Stir-fry over medium high heat with a spatula, until pork is evenly coated with bean sauce. Add leeks/onions and stir fry for another minute.


5. Spread tofu evenly on top of ground pork Add chili oil, and sugar. Pour in stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 10 minutes, until tofu becomes tender and the sauce has reduced by half. Taste the tofu with some broth (be careful, it will be very hot!). Adjust seasoning by adding salt. If the dish is too spicy, add another teaspoon of sugar. Gently mix well with spatula.

6. 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.


7. Garnish with green onion and small amount of sesame oil. Serve warm over steamed rice or by itself as main.

Illustration for article titled MaPo Tofu


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