Mapo Tofu Recipe – Pai’s Kitchen – Chinese Recipe

hey everyone and welcome to Pai's Kitchen, today I am making one of my favorite Chinese dishes ever and turns out it's Adams favorite Chinese dish as well I am talking about Mapo tofu soft tofu in a rich flavorful meat sauce that's spicy with a touch of numbness it's a specialty of Sichuan cuisine and it's super easy to make but there are a few ingredients that you have to get to know but it's nothing difficult and most of these are widely available at Asian grocery stores so let's get started I'm gonna go over some key ingredients real quick first and most importantly Sichuan peppercorns so these are responsible for the numbing sensation that I was referring to earlier so numbness on your tongue is a unique characteristic of Sichaun cuisine that they're very proud of it's becoming really popular in Thailand now too there are two types of Sichuan peppercorns one is green and the other one is red you can use either for this I personally prefer the red I find the flavor is a little bit more citrusy equally important is this thing right here this is broad bean paste that's spicy which I think in Cantonese is pronounced douban jiang this is the only brand that I can get in my grocery store but there are other brands out there as well you don't have to use this brand this is salty spicy it's got a fermented miso-esque flavor absolutely delicious and a must-have in this dish this next one I really like it in this dish but it is optional this is fermented black beans which are actually soy beans and it's called douci in Cantonese I just gave them a quick rinse and roughly chopped them you can find them in bags like this ok and they'll come like whole beans just like that finally I want to talk about the tofu real quick for this you want something soft and silky but the super soft one I find too soft and it will fall apart easily in your dish so this one I think is perfect at my store they call this smooth tofu sometimes it's called traditional tofu and it's got just the perfect amount of sort of smoothness softness and it's you know it's got just the right amount of wobbliness it's not gonna fall apart if you poke at it but it's got a little bit of jiggle that's what you're going for okay so I've toasted my Sichuan peppercorns I'm just gonna give it a grind in my mortar and pestle here there we go you're gonna still kind of get little flakes but don't worry about that as long as there are no big lumps you'll be fine I'm gonna start by sauteing my ground beef so I'm using ground beef but you can use ground pork not adding any oil because I do want to render out the fat from the beef Oh I'm also gonna season my beef I almost forgot with some soy sauce just want to break it up let it do its thing and even though you're beef is done make sure you allow the liquid to evaporate because you want the meat to brown a little bit develop some flavor and it won't do that as long as you've got some liquid still and that looks good to me you've got some browning going on I'm gonna turn this off and I'll just set this aside for now and as you can see I don't actually have too much fat in there which means I'm gonna have to add a little bit of oil but I always like to do this first just sometimes your beef isn't that lean and you actually end up get enough fat that you don't need to add any more all right so now the fun begins I'm gonna add a little more oil so I have enough to saute my herbs going in now with some ginger and garlic finely finely chopped there we go scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom my garlic is soft and starting to brown a little bit I'm gonna add my dry spices so I've got some black pepper, black pepper and beef I mean so good together, the Sichuan peppercorns, but I'm only gonna add half and then I'll leave the other half for sprinkling on top and it's also wise to do this if you're serving guests because some people find the numbness really disconcerting and they don't like it so I like to keep this mild and then leave the the people to decide whether they want more or not my douci goes in and chili bean paste couple tablespoons of that give that a quick saute just to get everything all infused together Oh smells amazing! deglazing with some stock this is unsalted either pork or chicken stock you can also just do water in this case I find it's such a flavorful dish that even if you did use water it's fine, of course it's always better with stock very nice this is optional but I'm adding some Chinese cooking wine because I happen to have it and I think it adds an extra layer of complexity if you don't have it don't worry about it, and to balance all the saltiness we just added, some sugar the beef going back in now I like to let this simmer for another five minutes or so to allow the flavor to really mingle and marry so the beef absorbs some of the flavor from the sauce and the sauce gets some beefiness check this out that looks so flavorful now it's a little thin right now so I am going to add some cornstarch slurry so I've just mixed a tablespoon of cornstarch with some water and we're gonna add just half at a time and just see where I'm at and you want to be stirring as you add otherwise you get a big clump and you want to bring it back to a boil before you judge its consistency because the cornstarch won't reach its full thickening potential until it's boiling you don't want it overly thick but you do want it to have some body to it to hold on to the tofu maybe a splash more now that looks good mmm just give it a taste for seasoning you want to do this before you add your tofu because once you add your tofu you don't want to be stirring it like adding things stirring it because the tofu's gonna fall apart so you want to do all your adjustment right now oh that's good Wow coincidentally I think the saltiness and the sweetness is just exactly where I need it to be but if you find that you need to have a little more soy sauce that would be totally normal it just depends on how far you've reduced the sauce and so on and so forth so now the tofu goes in so I've just cut it into big cubes and just slide everybody in I'm just gonna gently nudge them so they're sitting in the sauce give this a jiggle there we go and then I want to let this simmer for another few minutes to give the tofu time to absorb some of that flavor and then we're done how easy is that so to finish this off as an option you can drizzle some chili oil it makes it look nicer but also I think it could also use a little extra spiciness but if you find it already spicy enough you can skip this yes and chili oil you can buy or you can make I will include instructions on how to make your own chili oil in the written recipe some green onions for some freshness and greenery oh yes as an option you can use some of that Sichuan peppercorns that we saved to do a final garnish and that is it how beautiful is that now all you need is some hot white rice and you're good to go oh yes look at that now make sure you open up the tofu and let it air out a little bit because hot tofu burns your mouth like crazy and this happens to me so many times already it's such a flavor explosion it's salty spicy the numbing by the way doesn't hit you until after a little bit but what I love about this dish is all that flavorful meatiness gets mixed with the creamy tofu that breaks apart in your mouth and it's just the perfect texture and once you gather all the ingredients it's so easy to put together it lasts a long time you can take it to work tomorrow for lunch I mean your kids will love it if you make it a little less spicy it is just an all-around terrific dish so I hope you give this a try and when you make it send me a photo on Facebook Twitter or Instagram you can hang out with me on social media don't forget that and the recipe as always will be on PaisKitchen

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