Combine in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly to remove all lumps.
Add to wok, stir to combine and bring to boil. Cook until thickened, about 1 minute, then turn off heat. (Meanwhile, blanch tofu.)
Silken tofu, medium-firm, carefully cut in ⅗" / 1.5 cm cubes
½ lb block
Blanch to firm, 2 minutes.
Scallions, green parts, finely chopped
Chilli oil, roasted (optional)
Tofu (from G)
Add to wok and gently stir to combine until warmed through, about 1 minute.
Divide between serving bowls.
Scallions, sliced diagonally
Red chili, finely chopped (optional)
Original: 2009. Adapted: 2013.
Mapo tofu can be made with any kind of ground meat, though beef is commonly used. Our version of Ma Po Tofu uses pork mince, ’cause we like to be different, for which we will use chicken or pork stock (yeah, we make that stuff). Use whatever stock in E and F is relevant to the dish. It is not necessary to use beef stock with ground beef, though it does seem to be logical. We find an interesting variation is pork stock with ground veal.
Chili bean paste, toban djang, can be found at asian supermarkets.
Shaoxing rice wine can be substituted with dry sherry.
If you have more time and would like the meat a little softer, add 500 ml of water or flavourful liquid to the wok after step 3 and simmer for 30–45 minutes until the water has evaporated. Then proceed with step 4.
You can substitute any neutral oil with a high smoke point for the vegetable oil in A.
If you have pork stock available, you can use it instead of chicken stock. It makes for a lovely porky version of this dish.
If you can’t find arrowroot, substitute with 6 g corn flour. The sauce should be fairly thick, but if it is too thick after the addition (and cooking) of flour mixture in step t, thin to desired consistency with a little water.
You can thicken the chicken stock in F with 0.5 g xanthan gum instead of flour. Fully disperse into the stock before adding to the wok and mix with the other ingredients for a couple of minutes to fully hydrate.
We are currently experimenting with a fluid gel concept in our Ma Po Tofu fluid gel recipe, inspired by Grant Achatz and Modernist Cuisine. The idea of a concentrated gel stock is discussed in volume 4, page 183. This fluid gel would replace E and F; the mixture would not need to be boiled to thicken.
The silken tofu can be balanced in advance. Save on washing up by boiling water in the wok while doing other prep. Blanch the tofu and set aside. Discard the water but keep the wok on low heat in preparation for the rest of the cooking.