Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu)

Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu)
Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu)
This spicy braise, garnished with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, is one of the region's most well-known dishes.Ariana Lindquist

This spicy braise, garnished with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, is one of the region's most well-known dishes. See Matt Gross's article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients.

Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu)
This spicy braise, garnished with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, is one of the region's most well-known dishes.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 oz.) package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1" cubes
  • 12 cup hong you (Sichuan red chile oil; from recipe, or use store-bought)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (6") piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6 oz. ground beef or pork
  • 4 suan miao (Chinese chives, blossoms discarded) or scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 xiao mi la or red Thai chile, stemmed and minced
  • 2 12 tbsp. douban jiang (Chinese red chile bean paste)
  • 1 tbsp. dou chi (Chinese fermented black soybeans)
  • 1 14 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 14 cup cornstarch, mixed with 6 tbsp. water
  • 14 tsp. ground Sichuan pepper, for garnish
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Steamed rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Place tofu in a bowl with 3 cups boiling salted water; let sit 15 minutes. Drain and spread on paper towels to dry; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a 14" flat-bottomed wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beef; cook, stirring and breaking up meat, until browned, 4–6 minutes. Add chives, chiles, paste, and beans; cook, stirring, until chives are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add stock and tofu; bring to a boil, stirring gently, so as not to break up the tofu. Add sugar and soy; cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. While stirring, slowly add cornstarch mixture; cook until sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a dish and garnish with chives and pepper. Serve with rice.