The province of Sichuan in China is famous for its taste bud killing pepper corn & spicy food. One of their most famous dishes is the ‘mapo tofu’, sometimes translated as the ‘pockmarked grandma’s bean curd’.
When my father was a young lad, he attended a university far away from home. Ever since then, he developed a strong desire for traveling. After graduation, he worked for a state-owned factory with a starting salary of 51 yuan a month. He did not have the money to travel other than travelling for work.
One year, he was fortunate enough to be sent to Sichuan for a research project. He asked my grandmother for an oil coupon. Those days most essentials were scarce and required coupons. When he arrived, he took the coupon to a well-known local restaurant and ordered a big bowl of mapo tofu. ‘The tofu was so good,’ he said to me, still with great enthusiasm, ‘ it had two spoonfuls of oil in it.”
I have had many mapo tofu dishes over the years – they all seemed to be overly oily. But I liked them just like that – I soaked up the oil with boiled rice. I could feel my father’s joy and excitement as a far-away-from-home young traveler.
Recipe is as follows:
- 6 pieces of firm tofu, cut to small cubes
- 100g of pork mince
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 1 stalk of shallot, white part only, roughly chopped (optional)
- a few stalk of coriander, stalk part only, roughly chopped (optional)
- 1tbsp of chili soy bean paste
- 1tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tbsp cooking wine (white table wine is fine)
- a little corn flour, mix well with a little water
- chopped shallot & chili (garnish, optional)
- Bring a frying pan to medium-high heat, add the cooking oil, onion, shallot (white part), coriander (stalk), soy bean paste and pork mince; stir fry for 60 seconds or until the pork mince is just cooked & the sauce aromatic
- Add the wine to the frying pan, stir (this will give it a bit more sauce to coat the tofu)
- Add tofu cubes, toss briefly until the tofu cubes are well coated and warm through
- Add the corn flour mix (this will make the sauce thicker)
- Transfer the tofu to a serving plate, garnish with shallot and chili