Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Things that numb your tongue: Mapo Tofu



I was pleased to find a bottle of Szechuan style spicy bean paste during one of my monthly jaunts to the in the International District in Seattle. The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw this jar by Lee Kum Kee was Mapo Tofu. I have been wanting to try this recipe for ages, since finding it on several food blogs like RasaMalaysia and Closet Cooking.

As a Chinese growing up in Malaysia, I've certainly never had Mapo Tofu, which for the longest time I suspected to be a weird American invention of some sort. The first time I tried it in a Szechuan restaurant in New York, the dish struck me as bizzare, with its weird menthol-like flavour. It reminds me ever so uncannily of Orajel, with the numbing sensation and the tingly feeling it leaves on your lips. I found out a little later that this is due to the use of Szechuan peppercorns.

Since I love tofu, pork and all things spicy it only seemed fit to try my hand at making something that combined all these in one eccentric dish: Orajel tofu...

Mapo Tofu
Makes 4 servings

1/2 lb ground pork (or turkey)
1 block medium-firm tofu
1/2 cup Sichuan spicy bean paste
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 dried chilis, sliced
2 stalks green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground Sichuan peppercorns (or Chinese white pepper)

Cut 3 inches off the white end of the green onions. Slice the white part into half. Chop the green parts into 1/4 inch slices. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok until wok is smoking. Stir-fry the ground pork until cook through. Set aside.

In the same wok, heat an extra 1 tbsp of oil and bring the heat down to medium. Fry the garlic, dried chilis and the white parts of the green onions until fragrant. Add in the bean paste and fry for a few minutes. Add in the pork. Fry for a few minutes to coat.

Gently slide in the cut tofu, scatter the peppercorns and stir to coat. Pour in the chicken broth and simmer the tofu for about 5 minutes until the tofu is cooked through.

Dish out on a plate and scatter with remaining chopped green onions.

4 comments:

Snorfle said...

this is no joke, you can't feel the tip of your tongue for like 5 minutes afterwards

Amanda said...

Yeah though I think it tastes less weird the next day... the numbing sensation is kind of non-existent.

Kevin said...

That looks so tasty! I like that numb tongue sensation.

Sophie said...

WOW (impressed look). Your version looks so yummy.

Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.
http://yummiexpress.freetzi.com