Mapo Tofu

by Yu Xin Liu
Contributor

Sauce:
• 1 tablespoon fermented black beans
• 1 cup chicken stock
• 2 ½ tablespoons chili bean paste
• 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
• 2 teaspoons soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons sesame oil
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• ½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
Other ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
• ½ pound ground pork or beef
• 2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced at an angle
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon minced ginger
• 1 block soft or medium-firm tofu, drained and cubed
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
• 1 scallion, green part only, chopped for garnish
Instructions
1. Sauce: Rinse the black beans. In a small bowl, mash the black beans with the back of a spoon. Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
2. Heat a large skillet on high heat. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the pork and cook until crispy and starting to brown, (2 min, breaking up pork). Reduce to medium, then add leeks, garlic, and ginger (1 min).
3. Pour in the sauce and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. The liquid should have a nice red color. Gently add the tofu cubes, being careful to not move them around too much to prvent them from breaking. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes until the tofu is cooked and has absorbed the majority of the sauce.
4. Carefully push the tofu to the sides and create a small well in the middle. Stir in the cornstarch mixture in the center. Allow the sauce to thicken. Transfer to a deep plate or wide bowl, sprinkle scallions on top, and serve hot.