Ma Po Tofu
As part of Chinese Food Thursday (which i now deem due to the general tsos recipe posted earlier), I would like to present sorta americanized szechuan delights. Ma Po Tofu is one of my favorites; however, it looks like dog food/vomit mixed in with chunks of tofu. But trust me, it tastes good.
For this recipe (assuming you're feeding yourself), you need half a pound of minced/ground pork, a square of tofu, a clove or two of garlic, scallions/green onions/spring onions, 2 tablespoons of "ground bean sauce", soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, a couple tablespoons of cornstarch, and hot sriracha sauce or dried red chili peppers (optional).
I'm trying to do the mise en place thing here. Those stale cinnamon rolls aren't involved, don't worry. I'm using chinatown ground pork, as opposed to swift brined ground pork, so it's really fatty, as you'll see later. The tofu I have is fried, but you can use regular. I suggest extra firm, since you don't want the tofu disentegrating when you stir it. I just smashed the garlic, since that's what asian people do, they're too lazy to mince. The green onions are added last; all you really do is chop them up into little 1/4 inch pieces.
...throw in the garlic. You could mince it, but I'd rather do it in the pan. Garlic can and will burn, and it tastes kinda crappy, but the main purpose here is to flavor the oil with garlic. I leave my garlic in, but I think other people take it out so it don't burn.
Here, I just threw in the ground pork. Since ground stuff usually is in some sort of blob shape, I like to flatten it out by pressing it down with the wok shovel, so that more of it is in contact with the bottom of the wok. I also like to throw the garlic on top of it, so it doesn't burn and still provides garlicy anti-vampire charms.
So I was talking about the fat earlier. I'd say half of the pooled liquid is fat from the meat and the veg oil, and the other is fabulous pork juices. I dumped out a bunch of that, as I'm too young to die.
Then, I added the diced tofu, to let it heat up, you know. After that, you'd add some liquid; chinese restaurants will almost always add chicken stock, but you can just use water. Depending on how much sauce you like (i like my rice drowning in sauce), you can put in anywhere between 1-2 cups. This is regarding real stock/broth, don't throw in like, a boullion cube though, that's just wrong. That, and the bean sauce has tons of sodium anyways.
So here's the bean sauce. It says it's made out of ground soy beans, but that seems wrong to me, but I dunno. Any asian market should have this same brand of bean sauce, or you can just look for "mapo tofu sauce", which i've seen. Add 2 tablespoons of this sauce.
So here's what it should look like. The sauce should be very thin and brown, with the pork cooked and the tofu heated up, basically. You can taste the sauce and see if it needs more of the brown stuff or less. This is also when you'd add soy sauce if you want, white pepper, and sesame oil. A teaspoon or 2 of each should be sufficient.
I forgot to take pix of making a cornstarch slurry. You basically add a tablespoon or 2 of cornstarch into a bowl, and add 3-6 tablespoons of water. Stir it up, and you have cornstarch dissolved in water. Then, when the stuff in the wok is boiling, you'd pour it in gradually, a couple spoonfulls at a time, stirring so that it doesn't make lumps. Afterwards, it'll look something like this:
Once again, yes, I know this looks like dog food, but it tastes good, and it's somewhat healthy with the tofu or something i dont know. I'm a heathen and don't eat at a dinner table, so I dont have any table settings :(