Ma-po (or ma po or mapo) tofu is a signature dish of Chinese Sichuan cuisine, but it’s quite easy to make at home. Ma-po tofu is typically served with white rice. However, I decided to change things up a bit and make it with noodles. Since my wife is gluten free, I used Thai rice noodles, but you could use whatever type of noodle you prefer.
- 1 package (1 lb.) firm or extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 lb. ground pork (you could also use beef or even ground turkey or chicken)
- 2 Tbsp hot bean sauce (available at Asian markets)
- 7-8 fresh Thai chilies, minced (optional)
- 1 tsp. minced ginger
- 1 14-oz. can chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil (peanut, vegetable or canola)
- 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp. rice wine
- 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2-3 minced scallions
- ½ lb. noodles, cooked or soaked (for rice noodles) according to package directions
- Drain and pat dry the tofu to get rid of excess water. I let the tofu sit on paper towels for a half-hour or so before using. Dice the tofu into approximately 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
- In a small bowl or ramekin, make a cornstarch paste slurry using equal parts cornstarch and water (1 tbsp. each).
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork, bean paste, optional Thai chilies, and ginger. Quickly stir-fry the pork until just browned.
- Add the chicken stock, tofu, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, and black pepper to the wok and stir well.
- Simmer the mixture over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated – about 10-20 minutes.
- Add the cornstarch paste to the wok and stir thoroughly to incorporate. If the sauce is too thin, add more cornstarch paste. The sauce should be gravy-like, not too soupy.
- Stir the prepared noodles into the tofu mixture until well mixed.
- Sprinkle with the minced scallions and serve.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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