Mapo Tofu with Mushrooms and Broccoli
September 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
I have a mapo tofu problem, by which I mean that I think about it and crave it a whole lot. It’s spicy, savory, and pretty much addicting. In case you’ve never heard of mapo tofu or tried it before, it’s a Sichuan dish consisting of tofu and minced meat in a chili based sauce that has a red color to it.
And that’s where my knowledge (sourced from Wikipedia) ends, and if you want to know more you should really read Fuchsia Dunlop’s book, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, because she’s an amazing storyteller and was the first Westerner to train at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine, so needless to say, she knows her stuff.
But, back to this recipe, which appeared in my inbox last week via The Splendid Table’s The Weeknight Kitchen newsletter, which always includes weeknight meal ideas that help push me out of my comfort zone. This recipe swaps mushrooms for meat, which is my kind of recipe, and doesn’t lose any of the flavor or texture of the original dish. It also comes together in minutes. I doubled the amount of mushrooms and added some broccoli because apparently I can’t help myself from adding extra vegetables to a dish, even when the dish is already a vegetarian version of a meat dish.
I couldn’t find chili bean paste at the grocery store, which is a mix of fermented chile peppers and soybeans. There’s not an Asian market that’s walking distance, so instead I used chili paste since I already had some in my fridge. I definitely plan to get some chili bean paste so I can try it out, but to me it wasn’t a deal breaker to go without it. Most standard grocery stores stock chili paste, it seems. I also didn’t have Szechuan pepper and proceeded without it which is probably blasphemy, but I devoured it anyway so I say no harm done.
This is going to be a new weeknight favorite, look out shakshuka.
Mapo Tofu with Mushrooms and Broccoli
Slightly Adapted from The Splendid Table
- 2 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil (I used canola)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper (I skipped this, I’m sorry to all authentic Chinese cooks out there)
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- ~2 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
- 3 celery stalks, sliced thin
- 2 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (I bought two 10 oz packs of pre-sliced mushrooms)
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 3 tablespoons chili bean paste, or chili paste if you can’t find chili bean paste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- black pepper
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 avocado, sliced (optional)
- Press the water out of the tofu by placing the tofu between two paper towels, and setting on a plate. Then place a heavy pot, skillet, or can on top of the tofu. I use my panini pan. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
- Cut the tofu into cubes. First, cut the block of tofu in thirds widthwise, so you have three thinner rectangular slices of tofu. Then cut each rectangle into cubes.
- Before heating your pan, be sure to have all your ingredients measured out (I like to put ingredients like soy sauce and vinegar in small bowls), prepped (garlic minced, ginger grated, etc) and nearby.
- In a wok or large nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat.
- Add red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger and stir frequently.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the celery, mushrooms, broccoli, chili paste, soy sauce, and vinegar.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tofu cubes, and stir to coat the tofu in the sauce.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Turn off the heat, season with black pepper and the sesame oil, and sprinkle with the scallions. Top with some avocado slices if you have one in your fridge.