Growing up in Hong Kong, we ate tofu in many different dishes; however, a Sichuan dish called Mapo Tofu was my all-time favourite. Spicy, saucy, and filled with umami, usually made with minced pork and soft tofu and always served with steaming hot rice. One of those dishes I always have to order in a Chinese restaurant is that every family has their own make-at-home version.
This time I improvised and threw together what I had in my fridge to make a sort-of-like-MaPo Tofu which turned out bursting with umami and tasted exactly as I had hoped, so I’m excited to share it with you guys.
I used coarsely minced beef, fresh mushrooms, and firm tofu @tofooco. The beef can be replaced with chicken or pork; alternatively, skip the meat altogether and make it vegan with just mushrooms and tofu. I made it really spicy and saucy as I wanted it almost soupy and finished it with a ton of fresh spring onions and coriander for freshness at the end.
There are 3 key ingredients in Mapo Tofu. All are available in Chinese supermarkets or online, and believe me. These are worth getting, as they can jazz up so many dishes.
The first is ‘Doubanjiang’, a fermented spicy bean paste with very deep savoury and salty flavours used in Sichuan cuisine. Chinese tinned salted fermented black beans are the next key ingredient. These add an intense umami flavour to the dish. I use them for any Chinese black bean dish. They are available on Amazon for £1.39 a tin – I use the Yang Jiang brand. Lastly, Sichuan peppercorns, which bring the dish alive with their tingling citrusy smokey flavours, are probably available from your local supermarket.