How to Make Mapo Tofu at Home

How can we miss this recipe for so long? Mapo tofu is such a popular dish that you can order it in most Chinese restaurants. It is simple in preparation, gives a bursting and mouth-numbing flavor with tender texture. For the newbies in the kitchen, this dish will give you an idea how some quick-sauce are made in Chinese cuisine.

Commonly restaurants make it with a lot of oil. Actually it doesn’t need that much to be delicious, especially when we eat at home. This recipe uses 2 tbsp of oil and still tastes pretty authentic. It is a very spicy version though, but the hot level can be adjusted downwards by reducing the amount of red chili or choosing a less spicier Doubanjiang(chili bean paste). Give this a go and tweak it to suit your taste!
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A few tips:

1. Choose the right type of tofu. Soft and silky tofu is the best choice, but not the softest one that easily breaks when you cut it into pieces. During cooking, don’t stir-fry or even stir the tofu, simply cook them in the sauce.

2. Doubanjiang is a fermented broad bean paste, used particularly in Sichuan cuisine. It has a reddish-brown color with a uniquely deep and complex umami profile. It’s usually spicy and quite salty. You may want to taste it before adding more salt into the dish.

3. Sichuan pepper(huaqiao) originates from Sichuan province, has a unique aroma, and brings a tingly numbness on the tongue. It’s often added together with chili peppers to create a flavor called “mala” in Chinese(numbing and spicy). It’s different from other types of peppers, so there is no substitution for it.

4. Thicken the sauce with corn starch. Combine corn starch with cold water to make a slurry. Thicken the sauce until it can cling on to the surface of the tofu. This step is definitely the finishing touch!
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Ingredients
(serve 2)
400g soft tofu, cut in small cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pieces ginger, finely chopped
1 red chili, chopped
1 tsp Sichuan peppers, toasted in a pan and then ground
1 tbsp Doubanjiang
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp cold water to form a slurry
several spring onions, sliced for garnish
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Methods

1. Add 2 tbsp oil to the pan, on high heat. Add the ginger, garlic and spring onion stalks. Stir-fry for 1 minute.

2. Add Doubanjiang, red chili and soy sauce, combine well, keep stir-frying until aromatic.

3. Pour in 1 cup of cold water. When it’s boiling, add the tofu carefully. Cook over low heat for five minutes. Let them absorb the flavor of the seasonings. Adjust the amount of water to roughly cover the tofu.

4. Add corn starch slurry to the pan spoon by spoon, until the sauce is thick enough.

5. Finally, add sesame oil and ground Sichuan pepper. Sprinkle some spring onion greens on top. Serve with steamed rice.
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Teriyaki Tofu

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Teriyaki is a cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine in which foods are grilled with a glaze of special sauce. The word “teriyaki” derives from the noun “teri”, which refers to a shine given by the sugar content in the “yaki” ( a cooking method of grilling).

It’s actually hard to find someone who doesn’t like Teriyaki. The teriyaki sauce can be versatile to match with different ingredients, no matter weather you are meat-lover or vegetarian. Teriyaki sauce is definitely the soul of any teriyaki dish. We are gonna make the sauce today, and there is no need to buy teriyaki sauce in stores ever again! This teriyaki sauce is so easy to make, the ingredients are likely already in your kitchen and the sauce is ready in 10 minutes. You can make a bigger batch and keep it in the fridge up to a week.

There are many kinds of tofu available based on texture preference. Since we are lightly frying the tofu pieces, firm tofu will have more compact structure and keep in shape when you flip them over in the pan. I cut them into 1cm thick triangles so I only have to fry two sides. You can also cut them into squares if you don’t mind to fry six sides. Each piece of lightly crisp and tender tofu glazed with savory sauce is super satisfying. I like to add some extra vegetables like steamed green soybeans, fresh carrots and sprouts to accompany this meal.

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INGREDIENTS
(serves 2)
200g firm tofu, cut into 1cm thick, drained on paper towels
steamed green soybeans
fresh carrots and sprouts
green onions
sesame seeds

Teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced ginger, divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup water

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METHODS
1. In a small pot over medium heat, mix all of the ingredients for the sauce except for cornstarch and the cold water. In another bowl, whisk the cornstarch and cold water until dissolved. Add this mixture to the sauce in the pot and mix well, heat until sauce thickens about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
2. In a large nonstick pan, heat some oil over medium-high heat. Cook the tofu for 3 minutes, until golden brown and slightly crisp. Turn over and cook another 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate with paper towels.
3. Whisk the teriyaki sauce and add to the pan. When it comes to a boil, add in tofu, stir to coat and turn off heat. Give a generous amount of sesame seeds.
4. Prepare a bowl of cooked rice, top with steamed green soybeans, fresh carrots and sprouts, teriyaki tofu. Add more sauce on top of the rice if there’s any left in the pan. Garnish with spring onions.

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