Ma Po Tofu

I can’t tell you how much I love this dish and I am so happy I found it. It is such a refreshing change from the usual stir fry millions of Australians cook up in their woks every week. In our house we almost never make stir fries any more. We find them boring and are always left thinking we should have just ordered take away from a local Chinese restaurant! This little dish leaves us thinking just that, that we’ve ordered it in!

The lovely silken tofu is a delight to eat. It is a great contrast to the crunchy beans and chewy pork. The sweet soy balances out the salty soy and vinegar and for me, ginger and coriander make most dishes better. Its the sichuan pepper that is the real difference here. You could leave it out and it would still be yummy but its a nice exotic element. I leave out the chili when I make it, only because my little ones would not enjoy the heat.

My adaptation is from two sources: one from another local Adelaide blogger called Sarah and another from  Chinese-American chef Jet Tila who I discovered on a random cooking show called Chasing the Yum. Chef Jet is great to watch as he explains the why behind the methodology of a recipe – very educational!

Ma Po Tofu

Recipe adapted from here and here

Serves 4

500g silken tofu
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, chopped (optional)
4 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan/Szechuan peppercorns
300g pork mince
4 spring onions, finely sliced
4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
250ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornflour
300g green beans, cut into 4cm lengths
small bunch coriander
dried shallots

Tip the water off the tofu and cut into 3 cm cubes while still in the container. Lay a thick wad of paper towel over the container and place a board behind it. Turn tofu out gently and leave to drain.

Combine the sweet soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, dark soy, chicken stock and cornflour and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Heat wok on high until smoking then turn right down and add oil. Swirl to coat pan then add garlic, ginger, chilli if using and sichuan pepper. Toss until just turning golden. Turn heat back up to high, add pork and stir fry for 5 minutes. Add spring onions and the sauce combo and continue to stir fry for another 5 minutes.

Add green beans and toss in the sauce, then gently slide in the tofu cubes and turn over in the sauce very carefully. Cook on medium-low for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle coriander over the top and stir through. For a nice crunch sprinkle over some dried shallots if you have them.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

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