One of Sichuan cuisine’s best-known dishes, mapo tofu is a comforting, tongue-tingling braise showcasing many ingredients which form the bedrock of the regional cooking style. Doubanjiang, a dark red fermented paste of erjingtiao chiles and broad beans, brings deep umaminess and heat, while douchi, fermented black soybeans, penetrate the tofu with briny, pungent flavor. Red chiles and Sichuan pepper mingle to create the fiery, mouth-numbing flavor profile known in Chinese as mala.
Featured in “Capital of Heat,” by Matt Gross.
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- ¼ cup cornstarch
- One 14-oz. package silken tofu, drained and cut into 1-in. cubes
- Kosher salt
- ½ cup hong you (Sichuan red chile oil), or substitute store-bought
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 6 oz. ground pork or beef
- 2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. doubanjiang (Chinese red chile bean paste)
- 1 Tbsp. douchi (Chinese fermented black soybeans)
- 4 Chinese chives (blossoms discarded), or scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
- 1 xiao mi la or red Thai chile, finely chopped
- 1¼ cups chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. ground Sichuan pepper
- Steamed rice, for serving
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