Chinese Cooking Recipes – Ma Po Tofu

mapo tofu

Hi guys, you know, some people don’t like tofu.  I get it, I didn’t used too either, it’s a bland protein delivery system after all and why bother if you’re not vegetarian/vegan.  This recipe got me however and now I crave it in all it’s jiggly forms, at least once a week.  We could all be healthier and none of us are getting younger, tofu is good for you, think of it like a blank canvas.  Would you eat pasta with no sauce, or plain white rice?  No of course not, tofu is the same, it takes on whatever flavors you give it and there are so many great chinese tofu recipes.  This ma po tofu recipe is my favorite though and it’s a great tofu introduction for newbies, it even has meat!  The “ma po” part of the recipe refers to an smallpox scarred (pock marked) old woman who used to make this for hungry workers in Szechuan.  Enjoy this tofu stir fry!

Equipment You Will Need

Get your trusty saute pan or wok, your cutting board and best knife.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound block of tofu, use extra firm if possible
  • 5 green onions, sliced thin on the bias (diagonal)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb ground pork or beef (beef is tradtional but I like pork so there!)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan chili bean paste (this one is good too and easier to find in most markets)
  • 1 tablespoon fermented black beans (optional, I use chili garlic sauce sometimes for more heat)
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 4 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon ground sichuan peppercorn
  • salt to taste

Grind up the Sichuan peppercorn in a mortar or just crush it up with the flat of your knife.  Make sure you taste as you cook, sometimes I add some ground chinese chilies to kick up the heat a bit more.

Let’s Cook!

Drain your tofu and cut it into 1 inch cubes (see the video below) and slice your green onions into thin diagonal shapes (horse ears in Chinese).  Add the oil to your wok and heat on med-high until almost smoking.  Cook the ground pork/beef until it is browned but not dry then turn the heat to medium.  Add the chili bean paste and stir fry until the oil takes on its color, about 30 seconds.  Then add the fermented beans and ground chilies (if using) and stir fry for 30 seconds more.  Pour in the chicken stock, stir and then gently add the tofu and gently mix.  Try not to break up the tofu too badly, add the sugar, soy sauce and salt and adjust as needed.  Simmer gently for about 5 minutes then add the scallions and simmer for a minute more.  Mix up the cornstarch and water and add slowly until the sauce climgs to the meat and tofu, you don’t need to use all the cornstach mixture.  Plate into a large bowl and add the ground sichuan peppercorn on top.

Platingma po tofu

Be careful not to break up the tofu as you’re mixing and plating, it should look like the picture to the right.  I think the video below is a classy way to eat this tofu stir fry but you can also scoop over a plate of rice if you want.  If you’ve not had Szechuan peppercorns before don’t be alarmed by the numbing feeling in your lips and tongue, it’s supposed to do that!

Post Prandial Thoughts

If you don’t at least like tofu after this then I can’t help you, it’s my favortie Chinese tofu recipe and a great one for the winter months.  This ma po tofu recipe reminds of Texas style chili in many ways, its hearty and comforting with a spicy kick!  I hope you will love it as much as I do, let me know how it went in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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Easy Chinese Food Recipe – Stir Fried Pork with Scallions

easy chinese food recipe

Hi guys!

This one is a weeknight go to, you should after a couple of tries be able to bang this out in under 30 minutes. It is also a good one for the kids and an easy Chinese food recipe that you can make spicy, add more vegetables, or even make vegetarian/vegan if you want!

Equipment You Will Need

Break out your chef’s knife, your saucepan or wok and a cutting board, you’ll need measuring spoons as well unless you have a keener eye than me! Fire up your rice cooker at the beginning as well, it will take longer to cook the rice than the rest of the meal. In fact, I always start a recipe by starting the rice, it will keep almost indefinitely. Just give the rice a fluff about five minutes after it’s done and keep warm.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb of pork (boneless chops work great, pork butt too), cut into 1/4 thick slices or matchsticks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground white pepper (to taste, I use more cause I keep it spicy!)
  • 3 slices ginger (each about the size of a quarter, peeled)
  • 6 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into 2 inch pieces, green and white parts
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Let’s Cook!

Combine the pork, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch and white pepper. I like to mix everything up and then add the pork and mix by hand (with clean washed hands please).

Heat your pan/wok over medium-high heat until hot then add the vegetable oil. Add the pork carefully and let sit for a minute until it begins to brown, then stir-fry until brown all over but still slightly rare.

Add the salt, sugar and scallions and stir-fry for one or two more minutes until the scallions are bright green.

That’s it, not too bad right? Serve over rice and you’re done!

Plating

I usually just serve whatever I have cooked on top of a plate of rice because I have no class and just want to chow! However, the traditional Chinese service is to make several small plates/bowls of vegetable and protein dishes placed in the center of the table. Each diner will have their own small bowl of rice, serving themselves with chopsticks from the communal bowls. The various flavors from the dishes combine with the rice which is then finished ending the meal. You do you though, I won’t judge!

Post Prandial Thoughts

This might be my favorite Chinese pork recipe just because it is so easy and a great palette for any additions you want to make. I love it on its own though, very clean and simple, so I urge you to try that first and then make it yours! Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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Chinese Cooking Recipes – Beef with Broccoli

Chinese Cooking Recipies

Welcome! The first recipe I am going to share with you is one I most often recommend to friends and one of the first Chinese cooking recipes that I learned. Why you might ask? It’s easy, with a simple list of ingredients and techniques. Everything you need you probably have in your own kitchen and can find in your local grocery store. Even first timers can get this done in well under an hour and it is a huge crowd-pleaser and gets everyone to eat their broccoli!

Equipment You Will Need

I am going to make the assumption that you have a good sharp chef’s knife and a cutting board, if not, you need those to cook anything at home, if you would like a recommendation let me know in the comments.

I like to use either an 11-12″ wok or a 10.5″ saute pan for Chinese food recipes. Using the wok takes some higher level heat and quickness so I recommend the pan, hopefully you have something like that that is over 2″ deep. I don’t recommend cast iron as it is heavy and things can stick if you’re not careful, we’re trying to make this easy right?

Hey do you like rice? If so get a rice cooker, they’re not expensive and you just add your rice, water, set and forget!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 lb flank steak, sliced thin across the grain
  • 2 tablespoons oyster flavor sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 8 oz broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • Steamed white rice, about 4 cups cooked

Some notes on ingredients:

Use whatever soy sauce you like, I use a mix of light and dark but you won’t find dark everywhere. Regular old Kikkoman or whatever is fine. Likewise, with the rice wine, I have used Mirin, Japanese style, whatever they have at the store is fine to start. If you like more broccoli, great! If you like more beef, cool! Just remember to adjust the other ingredients accordingly. I like garlic so I put more in, if you want to add ginger go for it, you can mince it up and throw it in with the garlic. Make it yours!

Let’s Cook!

Make the marinade for the beef by mixing the 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, wine and cornstarch in a good sized bowl. Make sure to mix the starch thoroughly, you should end up with a pasty sauce. Add the beef and mix thoroughly, I use my (Always washed! Very often while cooking!) hands. Put that aside for a bit and make your sauce to add to the cooking beef. Mix the oyster sauce the remaining soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl.

While you’re marinating, mince your garlic and cut up your broccoli. A word on knife technique, be safe obviously, and use a sharp knife, dull knives are the ones that cut you. This isn’t a restaurant so no one will care if your little garlic pieces aren’t all the same size, if you want to develop pro-style knife skills there are plenty of videos online, I’d rather eat, when you’re done chopping put the broccoli aside. Make sure you get all of your chopping, measuring etc. done before you start cooking, there is nothing worse than having to panic measure/chop some ingredient while you’re cooking. That’s how stuff gets burnt and I once set a pan on fire this way, don’t do that!

Put your saute pan over medium-high heat and let it warm up for a couple minutes. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat the pan, throw in your garlic and follow with the beef right away. In my experience minced garlic cooks very quickly so no more than 10 seconds by itself. Stir fry your beef until is just a little pink still then add your oyster/soy/sesame sauce. Cook for about 1 minute more then remove from heat and transfer to a plate.

Return your saute pan to heat and throw in your broccoli and the chicken broth. I like my broccoli fairly crisp (as do most kids FYI) but if you like it softer you can cook until all the broth boils off. I usually remove it with a slotted spoon after about 3 minutes.

Plating

I don’t like doing dishes so here’s what I do. I dump the broccoli on top of the beef on one plate then make another plate with half the rice and take half of the beef broccoli mixture and transfer it back. I mix in the remaining rice with the remaining beef and broccoli. It is not a great presentation but it’s one less plate to clean. If you want to take pictures of your creation portion out the rice on two plates and gently spoon the beef over the top and surround with broccoli. Now you’re Insta-famous!

Post Prandial Thoughts

I love this dish, you get your broccoli which we know is good for you (fiber, vitamin C!). The iron in the beef helps your body absorb the vitamin C and vice versa, teamwork to make the dream work! After you make this a couple time you will be able to whip it up in under 30 minutes. My friends love this one on a Friday night after happy hour, so much healthier and tastier than bar food or fast food. Kids love it and they’re eating their greens. If you’re starting from scratch you’ll need to buy some ingredients but after a while you’ll only need the beef, broccoli and maybe garlic. Start building a pantry and experiment and soon you’ll have enough at home to make a great meal with only a quick grocery stop for veggies and a protein. You want to make it spicy, throw in some chili-garlic sauce! Blow out your sinuses with some Chinese hot mustard! This is a great recipe to mess around with because it’s almost impossible to screw up. Go ahead and try it and let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments, enjoy!

-David B

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