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[Recipe] My take on the classic Mapo Tofu

Ok, let's get something out of the way first. This recipe is by no means authentic and it is also not something that is traditionally prepared in our household. There's just a lot of ingredients not available to me at this time and we make do with whatever is available. The substitutions made this recipe into something like a take on mapo tofu with a Filipino/Korean/Japanese twist. Well, that's mostly due to the fact that the closest place I can look for substitutes is a Japanese/Korean grocery store near our place. I'm also not that big on overly spicy food so I used the "siling haba" or the banana chili instead of the usual "siling labuyo" or even the Thai bird's eye chili for the main spice. I just compensated with the inclusion of some chili-garlic paste and the addition of the Japanese 7 spice (Shichi-mi tōgarashi) since one of the components there is either sanshō or Szechuan peppercorns which is said to be one of the key ingredients in a mapo tofu. I hope you like this recipe as much as I had fun cooking it.

The resulting dish is just moderate in terms of spice level but believe me when I say that it caused a lot of sweat, tears, and the occasional runny nose for me thanks to my particular predicament. I think it turned out great nevertheless.

400 grams ground pork
2 packet firm tofu (500 grams per packet), diced
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
8 pcs. banana chilies (siling haba), sliced
1 Tablespoon peppercorn, dry pan-roasted until fragrant then crush in a mortar and pestle
1 matchbox-sized ginger, grated
1 whole bulb of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fermented bean paste (Doenjang)
1 Tablespoon chili-garlic paste (alternatively you can use Gochujang if you have it)
2 knorr chicken bouillon cube 
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon muscovado sugar
1 stalk leeks (finely sliced)
1 teaspoon paprika
soy sauce to taste
Shichi-mi tōgarashi (or substitute with dry chili flakes) for sprinkling on the dish
roasted sesame oil (for drizzling)
In a medium-sized pot or wok, over medium heat, sauté the sliced banana chilies using the vegetable oil, add the minced garlic, grated ginger, and crushed roasted peppercorns. Cook until fragrant with constant stirring. Add the minced pork and continue cooking until the meat is browned. Add the chili-garlic paste, the fermented bean paste, and the paprika powder.

Dissolve the cornstarch in a cup of water. Pour the mixture into the pot, and add the pork bouillon cube and muscovado sugar. Stir and make sure that the pork cube dissolves in the liquid completely. After a while, the sauce will gradually thicken. Add the tofu, gently mixing the tofu with the rest of the ingredients. Lower the heat and let it simmer stirring occasionally for about 5 to 8 minutes. Adjust the saltiness with soy sauce (I used around 3 Tablespoons).

Add the sliced leeks and cook until the leeks are just slightly wilted. Serve hot and garnish with shichi-mi tōgarashi and drizzle roasted sesame oil.

Number of serving: 10
Nutritional information per serving (approximated):
  • Calories 470
  • Carbs 13.8 g 
  • Fat 38.4 g
    • Saturated 15.5 g
    • Polyunsaturated 3.3 g
    • Monounsaturated 13 g
    • Trans 0 g
  • Cholesterol 37.5 mg
  • Sodium 990 mg
  • Potassium 111 mg
  • Sugars 4.1 g
  • Protein 20.6 g


Unknown said...

Gosh, 1kg of tofu? Pang party ito ha.

JEP said...

Haha yes, sanay lang ako magluto ng pangbarangay ang dami. With a serving portion of 10, that would roughly be 100 grams of tofu per person.