Happy Chinese New Year everyone! This year is the year of the Rabbit, symbolising patience, peace and happiness. Things that I feel are all necessary in a kitchen!
Some dishes take patience, whether you are creating something new from scratch, doing something intricate, or waiting for that dish that's been slowly cooking to heat optimum deliciousness! Patience is key. If you feel you will have to rush something, maybe make something different that day and whip up something a bit quicker.
This dish will absolutely bring Happiness into your life!
Now I know, I know, tofu? 'Bland' 'horrible texture' 'I just don't understand why people like it' But trust the process here... think of the tofu on this dish as the sour cream or cheese on a chilli, a Trant taste and texture to cut through the spice. It doesn't seem so bad when we put it like that, hm? Tofu gets a bad rep, but surely something that is eaten daily in various parts of Asia cant be all that bad?!
What are the main ingredients of mapo Tofu?
Tofu - For this dish i prefer to use silken tofu for the creamy cooling texture and feeling. You can buy this in most supermarkets, it will be with the cupboard ingredients and not the chilled.
Spicy Doubanjiang - a spicy fermented broadbean paste that is used often in Sichuanese cooking. it gives a rich umami, earthy taste and an aromatic spiciness to any dish it is added to, and can be bought at the asian supermarkets. Its taste really is quite unique and I've not found a similar substitute, however if you really cannot find it i have used a spicy black bean sauce if I've been caught out.
Minced meat- This dish can be made using any mince you like, a mixture of beef and pork is actually very nice, the fattyness from the pork mince and the deep flavours of the beef mince work well. For a vegan alternative you can use vegan mince or a mixture of chopped and fried mushrooms.
Sichuan Pepper - Another essential ingredient to this dish. Paired with chillies to create the iconic flavour profile known as Mala, meaning mouth-numbing and spicy.
This has become a dish that is on regular rotation in our household. It is simple and quick to prepare, so makes for a good mid week meal. Served with some simply steamed rice and maybe a fresh cucumber salad to cut through the rich flavours of the dish.