Ma-Po Tofu

This fiery Sichuan classic is named for the pockmarked (po) wife (ma) who supposedly invented it at her husband's restaurant.

Total Time:
35 min
Prep:
15 min
Cook:
20 min

Yield:
3 to 4 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons hot bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound regular or soft (not silken) tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons corn, peanut or canola oil
  • 1/2 pound ground pork shoulder (preferably 75 percent lean)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced peeled ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Japanese sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon toasted sansho powder
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • Accompaniment: steamed rice
Directions

To make the sauce: Stir together broth, bean paste, soy sauce, and kosher salt. Set aside.

To poach the tofu: Slide tofu into a saucepan of simmering water and keep at a bare simmer while stir-frying rest of dish.

To stir-fry the pork: Heat a wok or large heavy skillet over high heat until hot and add 1 1/2 tablespoons corn oil, swirling to coat. Add pork and stir-fry, breaking up lumps and adding remaining 1/2 tablespoon corn oil if meat sticks, until no longer pink. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry over moderate heat until very fragrant, about 2 minutes.

To finish the stir-fry: Stir reserved sauce, then add to pork and bring to a simmer. Drain tofu in a large sieve and slide into sauce, stirring gently.

Stir cornstarch mixture and add to stir-fry. Bring to a boil, stirring gently, and cook until thickened and glossy, about 15 seconds.

Turn off heat and sprinkle with sesame oil, sansho powder, to taste, and 2 tablespoons scallion. Stir once or twice, then serve sprinkled with remaining tablespoon scallion.


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