ma-po tofu

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Servs: 3

This fiery Sichuan classic is named for the pockmarked (po) wife (ma) who supposedly invented it at her husband's restaurant. I've made a version of it for years. At the culinary schools I attended in Chengdu recently, their technique of poaching the tofu, prior to stir-frying, to freshen and tenderize it was new to me, as was the wonderful effect of a lavish sprinkling of Sichuan-peppercorn powder.

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  • add   1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced peeled fresh ginger
  • add   1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • add   1 1/2 teaspoons Japanese sesame oil
  • add   2 tablespoons hot bean paste
  • add   1/2 lb ground pork shoulder (preferably 75% lean)
  • add   1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • add   2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • add   <B>For sauce</B>
  • add   1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons corn, peanut, or canola oil
  • add   1/2 to 1 <a href="/recipes/recipe_views/views/103567">teaspoon toasted Sichuan-peppercorn powder </a> 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallionAccompaniment: steamed rice
  • add   1/4 cup chicken broth
  • add   Additive-free kosher salt to taste 1 lb regular or soft (not silken) tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes


  1. Make sauce: Stir together broth, bean paste,
  2. soy sauce, and kosher salt. Set aside.
  3. Poach tofu: Slide tofu into a saucepan of simmering water and keep at a bare simmer while stir-frying rest of dish.
  4. Stir-fry pork: Heat a wok or large heavy skillet
  5. 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.
  6. Finish 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.
  7. Turn off heat and sprinkle with sesame oil, Sichuan-peppercorn powder to taste, and 2 tablespoons scallion. Stir once or twice, then serve sprinkled with remaining tablespoon scallion.

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