Chapter 12: Dining Out

So we did Chapter 12: Dining Out, waaaay back in November. For reference, we start Chapter 18 tomorrow. However, Chapter 12 was definitely my favorite. We learned about different Chinese foods and got some first hand restaurant and grocery store experience. At the grocery store, we bought ingredients to make a dish to bring to a class potluck. Chad made (without any help from me) 干煸四季豆/gānbiān sìjì dòu/dry fried green beans with chili. I made 麻婆豆腐/mápó dòufu/Mapo’s tofu. They both turned out pretty well – see:

Our first attempt at Chinese Cooking!
Our teachers even liked it! 麻麻的,辣辣的,很好吃!

Anyway, the reason I’m bringing it up now is that I meant to waaaaay back in November, but then never got around to it. BUT, I made Mapo Tofu again tonight as part of the meal of the week, and it was super tasty. So I’ve decided to share the recipe here. I just want to point out really quickly that there’s a whole lot of chili oil in this, so the mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorn is oooh so very necessary. This recipe is straight from with NO alterations, and originates from a Sichuanese chef. I highly recommend reading the story first: How The Best Mapo Dofu is Made

The Original Recipe for Real Deal Mapo Dofu
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water
1 1/2 pounds medium to firm silken tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 pound ground beef (pork is also commonly used, they both taste great)
3 garlic cloves grated on a microplane grater
1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated on a microplane grater
2 tablespoons fermented chili bean paste
2 tablespoons Xiaoxing wine
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup roasted chili oil
1/4 cup finely sliced scallion greens

1. Heat half of sichuan peppercorns in a large wok over high heat until lightly smoking. Transfer to a mortar and pestle. Pound until finely ground and set aside.

2. Add remaining sichuan peppercorns and vegetable oil to wok. Heat over medium high heat until lightly sizzling, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pick up peppercorns with a wire mesh skimmer and discard, leaving oil in pan.

3. Combine corn starch and cold water in a small bowl and mix with a fork until homogenous. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat and add tofu. Cook for 1 minute. Drain in a colander, being careful not to break up the tofu.

4. Heat oil in wok over high heat until smoking. Add beef and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add chili-bean paste, wine, soy sauce, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Pour in corn starch mixture and cook for 30 seconds until thickened. Add tofu and carefully fold in, being careful not to break it up too much. Stir in chili oil and half of scallions and simmer for 30 seconds longer. Transfer immediately to a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining scallions and toasted ground Sichuan pepper. Serve immediately with white rice.

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One thought on “Chapter 12: Dining Out

  1. Carolyn B.

    Your picture looks just like the 四季豆 we get here in Shenyang! Could you send me the recipe you guys used? I’d love to make it myself.

    When will you depart for China?


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