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
- 1 (14 oz.) package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1" cubes
- 1⁄2 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 1⁄2 tbsp. douban jiang (Chinese red chile bean paste)
- 1 tbsp. dou chi (Chinese fermented black soybeans)
- 1 1⁄4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1⁄4 cup cornstarch, mixed with 6 tbsp. water
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground Sichuan pepper, for garnish
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Steamed rice, for serving
- 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.
- 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.