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Ma Po Tofu/Dofu Recipe?

  • l
  • Lindsay B. Sep 26, 2003 03:43 PM

I'm craving Ma Po Dofu, but I don't have a recipe. Would anyone like to share a recipe, or cite a good cookbook/website that contains one. Thanks so much.

-L

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  1. Here's Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe (scroll down the page). You probably won't stumble across a more authentic one.

    Link: http://prod.puffin.co.uk/pcs/static/p...

    1. My favorite recipe for Mapo dofu (or doufu) comes from the book "Mrs. Chang's Szechwan Cookbook", 1976, Harper & Row, ISBN 0-06-013803-2. As it might be difficult to find this book, I'll provide the recipe with some notes added. Don't be put off as it is rather long & detailed but produces what I think is the best version of this delicious dish - one of my favorites. As many times as I've ordered it in a restaurant I've never had a version as good as this...

      Ingredients (you will see some things more than once; they are used in different parts of the process)
      1/4 cup dried tree ears
      1 cup boiling water
      3 inch piece fresh ginger
      5 scallions
      1/2 lb ground pork or beef
      2 Tbs soy sauce
      1 tsp sesame oil
      1 Tbs Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
      8 or more cloves of garlic (or 2 Tbs chopped)
      6 fresh water chestnuts (I've used canned mostly)
      2 tsp cornstarch
      1/4 cup water
      6 squares fresh bean curd (I use the firmest)
      1 Tbs cornstarch
      6 Tbs peanut oil (I use less)
      1-1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes in oil (or to taste)
      1 Tbs hot pepper paste
      1 tsp sugar
      3 Tbs soy sauce
      1/2 cup water
      1-1/2 tsp ground, roasted Szechwan pepper corns (if you can find them)
      1 tsp sesame oil
      1 tsp salt or to taste

      Process:
      Put tree ears in small bowl & pour boiling water over them. Soak approx 15 min till soft & gelatinous. Peel the ginger and chop into pieces the size of a match head. Clean scallions and chop white part & 1/3 of the green into pieces slightly larger than the ginger. Add 1 Tbs chopped ginger & the equivalent of one chopped scallion to the ground pork along with 2 Tbs soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil & the 1 Tbs of Chinese rice wine. Mix thoroughly & set aside for approx 30 min.

      Peel the garlic and chop coarsely. Combine it with the rest of the ginger and mince them both until they are the consistency of a thick paste. Peel the water chestnuts or rinse the canned ones then chop till the size of a match head. Set aside.

      Mix the 2 tsp cornstarch with the 1/4 cup water & set aside.

      Cut the bean curd into 1/2 inch cubes (I go slightly larger - personal taste)

      Drain the tree ears, rinse then pick over for any impurities or hard stems then mince into match head sized pieces.

      Just before ready to cook, mix the 1 Tbs cornstarch into the meat mixture & blend thoroughly.

      Heat wok or pan over a moderately high flame for 15 seconds or so then add the 6 Tbs peanut oil. It's hot enough to cook when a few small wisps of smoke appear. Throw in the garlic & ginger & vigoursly stir-fry for approx 30 seconds. Continue to stir fry and add the hot pepper flakes in oil & the pepper paste, water chestnuts & tree ears. Stir fry for approx 30 seconds.

      Add the meat mixture & keep stirring as it cooks breaking up clumps. After approx 1 minute when meat loses its pinkish color, throw in the bean curd & chopped scallions & stir fry everything for about 45 seconds; then add the sugar & stir fry for another 30 seconds.

      Pour in the soy sauce & water and wait till it comes to a boil, then let it cook over moderate heat for 2 more minutes or so.

      Add the Szechwan pepper corns & stir thoroughly. At this point determine if it's too watery. If it is, add some of the cornstarch/water slurry (stir it up first) and stir fry until sauce becomes clear & thickened.

      Add the 1 tsp sesame oil & taste for salt. It should taste sharp & clear with just a hint of sweetness to balance the chilies. Serve with lots of steamed rice.

      2 Replies
      1. re: RWCFoodie

        I believe that the title of the book is Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook. It's one of my favorite Chinese cookbooks -- lots of good recipes that work. You can find many used copies of this book at the link below.

        Link: http://www.abebooks.com

        1. re: Nancy Berry

          Aaarrrggghh! Thanks for catching my typo on the author's name...

      2. c
        ChineseGourmet

        MaPo Dofu is something I make all the time. I learned it from my parents, who grew up in Sichuan. The key ingredient is Sichuan Hot Bean Paste(in Chinese, Dou Ban Jiang). It comes in hot or not hot. The only difference is that one is hot and the other is not. I use the hot, but either would work. You have to have this paste, otherwise, the MaPo Tofu will not be authentic in taste. Usually, you can only purchase this paste in Chinese grocery stores (even Cantonese run grocery stores may not have them as they do not eat spicy food and do not always know this sauce from Sichuan).

        I make this dish by feel.. so here's my best attempt for measurements. Adjust as needed to suit your own taste as real Sichuan dishes are EXTREMELY hot.

        SAuce:
        - 2 TBSP(Table) Sichuan Hot Bean Paste (1 TBSP if mild to medium)
        - 2 TBSP HOT Sauce (This should be reddish or brownish and pasty, buy this in a chinese grocery store, preferably imported from Sichuan province)
        - 1 TBSP of light Chinese Soy (Sheng Chou Type) (KIKKOMAN is too dark, but if Kikkoman, then 1/2 TBSP)
        - 1 TBSP Chinese Wine (ShaoXing Wine from the city of ShaoXing in Zhejiang province would be best)
        - 1/8 tsp of Zhenjiang dark vinegar (from the city of Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province)
        - 1/2 tsp (teaspoon) white pepper (adjust - preference)
        - 1/2 tsp black pepper (adjust - preference)
        - 1/2 tsp of sichuan pepper corn powder
        - 1/2 tsp sugar
        - 1/4 tsp salt (adjust dependin on soy & bean paste)
        - 1 tsp of sesame oil

        Ingredients:
        - 1 regular sized box of Tofu (plastic container with see-thru top, med is easier to handle than soft)
        - 1/2 lb ground pork
        - 6 med sized shrimp chopped in small pieces (optional)
        - Green onion, finely chopped (2 stalks)
        - Garlic, minced (5-8 cloves, depending on garlic preference)
        - Ginger, minced (2 slices)
        - 1-2 Fresh Chili Pepper, finely chopped (optional as it may already be too hot for you with the hot sauce and the sichuan bean paste - do not skip these two sauces! I use Habanero which is the hottest pepper in the world. Jalapeno is medium in strength.)
        - Canola Oil 5-6 TBSP
        - 2 tsp corn starch mix (with water and stir)

        Cooking Instructions:
        -Chop G.Onions, Garlic and Ginger finely
        -Heat Wok on high for about 2 minutes (adjust timing depending on size of flame in your kitchen) until the oil is very hot (this is important)
        -Place G. onions in the oil for about 1-2 minute then Garlic, ginger and fresh chili pepper (optional), wait until they start to get a little brown (this is an important step which most non-Chinese don't do.. as the flavor gets released into the oil)
        -Place g. pork into the wok. Breakup the g. pork and continue to stir to avoid clumping. Cook until 70% done.
        -If shrimp is desired, put in at this stage as it cooks faster.
        -Immediately pour in the wine, wait for 10 seconds to let wine absorb into meat, then place Sichuan bean paste, hot sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and pepper and stir. Wait for about 20 seconds
        -Put in the diced Tofu. Stir to mix the sauce and meat with the pork. Avoid breaking the tofu.
        -Turn down the flame to med and let simmer for 2-3 minutes or so to heat up the tofu and let the tofu abosorb the sauce. Stir once if necessary to avoid burning...
        -Turn the flame to high and bring it up to boil. AFter it boils, stir the starch mix and pour into wok. Continue to stir to distribute evenly for 10 seconds. The sauce should thicken. Turn off flame. (if too starchy, then reduce next time). this thickens the dish so the sauce stays on the tofu. you don't want to over starch, otherwise the appearane is bad and the taste is starchy.. You will need more of this starch mix if the liquid content is high and less if low. Liquid content varies depening on how fatty the pork is and how high your flame is.
        -Place in dish, put sesame oil over dish and serve.

        Sichuan peppercorn has a very different taste from black pepper. It's very aromatic. If you cannot find the power form, you may have to buy the pepper corn and grind it yourself. If you grind, be sure to grind it until real fine. Otherwise it will taste grainy. If you cannot find Sichuan pepper corn, then skip it. When you place the black, white and Sichuan peppers, be sure to avoid clumping...

        If this is too hot, you can reduce the hot sauce and purchase the non-hot sichuan bean paste...

        This is a very authentic recipe which you may not be accustomed to if you've only had the pseudo version.... I hope you enjoy it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ChineseGourmet

          Is there a substitute for the spicy bean paste or work around for it? I live in a rural area where the best I can find is LKK chili garlic sauce and black bean garlic sauce. I love Ma Po Tofu and don't want to spend a fortune on shipping charges to "import" these ingredients via UPS.

          1. re: Tedmom

            In fact, you can use Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce to replace the mentioned spicy bean paste. Chili Bean Sauce is similar to Doubanjiang with some soy beans added. But the taste is quite similar.

        2. c
          ChineseGourmet

          MaPo Dofu is something I make all the time. I learned it from my parents, who grew up in Sichuan. The key ingredient is Sichuan Hot Bean Paste(in Chinese, Dou Ban Jiang). It comes in hot or not hot. The only difference is that one is hot and the other is not. I use the hot, but either would work. You have to have this paste, otherwise, the MaPo Tofu will not be authentic in taste. Usually, you can only purchase this paste in Chinese grocery stores (even Cantonese run grocery stores may not have them as they do not eat spicy food and do not always know this sauce from Sichuan).

          I make this dish by feel.. so here's my best attempt for measurements. Adjust as needed to suit your own taste as real Sichuan dishes are EXTREMELY hot.

          SAuce:
          - 2 TBSP(Table) Sichuan Hot Bean Paste (1 TBSP if mild to medium)
          - 2 TBSP HOT Sauce (This should be reddish or brownish and pasty, buy this in a chinese grocery store, preferably imported from Sichuan province)
          - 1 TBSP of light Chinese Soy (Sheng Chou Type) (KIKKOMAN is too dark, but if Kikkoman, then 1/2 TBSP)
          - 1 TBSP Chinese Wine (ShaoXing Wine from the city of ShaoXing in Zhejiang province would be best)
          - 1/8 tsp of Zhenjiang dark vinegar (from the city of Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province)
          - 1/2 tsp (teaspoon) white pepper (adjust - preference)
          - 1/2 tsp black pepper (adjust - preference)
          - 1/2 tsp of sichuan pepper corn powder
          - 1/2 tsp sugar
          - 1/4 tsp salt (adjust dependin on soy & bean paste)
          - 1 tsp of sesame oil

          Ingredients:
          - 1 regular sized box of Tofu (plastic container with see-thru top, med is easier to handle than soft)
          - 1/2 lb ground pork
          - 6 med sized shrimp chopped in small pieces (optional)
          - Green onion, finely chopped (2 stalks)
          - Garlic, minced (5-8 cloves, depending on garlic preference)
          - Ginger, minced (2 slices)
          - 1-2 Fresh Chili Pepper, finely chopped (optional as it may already be too hot for you with the hot sauce and the sichuan bean paste - do not skip these two sauces! I use Habanero which is the hottest pepper in the world. Jalapeno is medium in strength.)
          - Canola Oil 5-6 TBSP
          - 2 tsp corn starch mix (with water and stir)

          Cooking Instructions:
          -Chop G.Onions, Garlic and Ginger finely
          -Heat Wok on high for about 2 minutes (adjust timing depending on size of flame in your kitchen) until the oil is very hot (this is important)
          -Place G. onions in the oil for about 1-2 minute then Garlic, ginger and fresh chili pepper (optional), wait until they start to get a little brown (this is an important step which most non-Chinese don't do.. as the flavor gets released into the oil)
          -Place g. pork into the wok. Breakup the g. pork and continue to stir to avoid clumping. Cook until 70% done.
          -If shrimp is desired, put in at this stage as it cooks faster.
          -Immediately pour in the wine, wait for 10 seconds to let wine absorb into meat, then place Sichuan bean paste, hot sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and pepper and stir. Wait for about 20 seconds
          -Put in the diced Tofu. Stir to mix the sauce and meat with the pork. Avoid breaking the tofu.
          -Turn down the flame to med and let simmer for 2-3 minutes or so to heat up the tofu and let the tofu abosorb the sauce. Stir once if necessary to avoid burning...
          -Turn the flame to high and bring it up to boil. AFter it boils, stir the starch mix and pour into wok. Continue to stir to distribute evenly for 10 seconds. The sauce should thicken. Turn off flame. (if too starchy, then reduce next time). this thickens the dish so the sauce stays on the tofu. you don't want to over starch, otherwise the appearane is bad and the taste is starchy.. You will need more of this starch mix if the liquid content is high and less if low. Liquid content varies depening on how fatty the pork is and how high your flame is.
          -Place in dish, put sesame oil over dish and serve.

          Sichuan peppercorn has a very different taste from black pepper. It's very aromatic. If you cannot find the power form, you may have to buy the pepper corn and grind it yourself. If you grind, be sure to grind it until real fine. Otherwise it will taste grainy. If you cannot find Sichuan pepper corn, then skip it. When you place the black, white and Sichuan peppers, be sure to avoid clumping...

          If this is too hot, you can reduce the hot sauce and purchase the non-hot sichuan bean paste...

          This is a very authentic recipe which you may not be accustomed to if you've only had the pseudo version.... I hope you enjoy it.

          6 Replies
          1. re: ChineseGourmet

            I'm on a quest to try different ma po tofu recipes and I stumbled upon this thread. Does anyone know the name of the hot sauce ChineseGourmet is referring to (i.e. if I go to a Chinese grocery what should I ask for)? I know the Sichuan hot bean paste is doubanjiang. Any assistance would be welcome. Thank you.

            1. re: BigSal

              If you are feeling lazy just buy the sauce already made in a packet available from any chinese grocery store.

              1. re: BigSal

                I usually use a Guilin Chili Sauce and the brand I'm using right now is Eastwell (a bit too salty, but OK otherwise), this is pretty similar in taste and texture to the Sichuan Hot Sauce Chinese Gourmet was referring to above. . I got it at Kam Man ( a chain of Chinese groceries, don't know if there's one in your area). In Chinese characters: :桂林辣椒酱 (in Mandarin: Guilin Lajiao Jiang). brand: 新皇冠

                Anyway, around here the Guilin Chili Sauce (which, by the way is more of a paste than a runny sauce) is more available than the Sichuanese equivalent , and I have a recipe that uses the Guilin sauce, so that's what I buy. You may well be able to find the Sichuan version, but I don't know any specific brands to recommend or exactly what it is usually called in Chinese, 四川辣椒酱, (Sichuan Lajiao Jiang) maybe?

                The ingredients are pretty similar to Doubanjiang, except there is a higher proportion of chilies and it uses soy beans (not broad beans) and the beans have been thoroughly smashed, hence the paste texture.

                1. re: qianning

                  Thanks qianning. I do have Guilin Chili Sauce in the pantry (Lee Kum Kee, but will keep an eye for Eastwell). I will also take a peek for the Sichuan Lajiao Jiang. Thanks for including the Chinese characters- they help me confirm the item I am looking for is correct as the English translations can vary quite a bit.

                  1. re: BigSal

                    The Eastwell is OK, but not my first choice, just what they had when I shopped. I think you'll be fine with the LKK. The Guilin Chili Sauce is a pretty good sub for the Sichuan version ( for others who see this, it is not douban jiang, it is much spicier than douban jiang). I use it that way all the time, because at some point there is a limit to how many open jars of chili products I want to have in my fridge!

                2. re: BigSal

                  I like Lan Chi's (made in Taiwan) Chili Sauce with Garlic.
                  http://www.lanchifoods.com/Products.htm

              2. Here is my absolutely favorite version from Epicurious (originally a Gourmet recipe from China). http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo.... I could live on this with a bowl of rice and some veggies. It takes almost no time to make.

                You don't have to parboil the tofu unless it's old. The quality of the hot bean paste makes a huge difference. I like Lee Kum Kee. I sometimes cut the amount of meat in half. Whatever you prefer.

                1 Reply
                1. re: PAO

                  This is the recipe I use with a couple of changes - we think it's delicious. I usually use beef instead of pork and double the meat. Also, I use closer to 1.5-2 cups of broth rather than the quarter cup called for. I think that may have been a typo in the original recipe, actually. Oh, and I never parboil the tofu.

                2. Here's a fun tutorial
                  http://www.youtube.com/user/cookingwi...