Our family loves tofu and this recipe is a favorite. It is relatively easy to prepare, you just need to have the right ingredients. Mapo tofu is a spicy dish originating from the Sichuan Province of China. Sichuan cuisine is known for it’s bold flavors and the use of chilis, spices and of course it’s Sichuan peppers. Authentic mapo tofu uses doubanjiang which is a paste made of fermented broad beans and spices. They use Pixian Douban in particular which is somewhat difficult to get a hold off here in the US. I just substituted toban djan a type of chili bean sauce for this recipe.
To make, add 2 tsp. of sesame oil and 1 tsp. of salt in half a pound of ground beef, mix well and set aside. Prepare a slurry by mixing 1 Tbsp. cornstarch with 2 1/2 Tbsp. of water. Drain your tofu and cut into small cubes. Most recipe call for silken tofu but I prefer to use medium firm because silken tofu tends to fall apart.
Get a wok or a large non-stick pan and heat about 1-2 Tbsp. oil. Add your ground beef and fry until it’s brown and then transfer it to a plate. In the same pan add a little bit more oil and fry 1 1/2 Tbsp. of Toban Djan then add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 2 finely chopped scallions (white parts) and 1 Tbsp. of finely chopped ginger. Cook until fragrant and then add 2 tsp. of pepper flakes (you can add more if you want more heat or spice in your food). Then add 2 cups water and let this come to a boil. After which you can slide in your ground beef and tofu. Season with 1 Tbsp. light soy sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. You can adjust the taste by adding a bit of salt or sugar if it’s too spicy. Slowly pour in your cornstarch slurry and stir until sauce is thickened. Place in bowls and sprinkle some green onions on top. I like to serve mine with some cilantro. Serve with steamed rice.