Monthly Archives: April 2015

Authentic Mapo Dofu (Tofu) Recipe, a Szechuan delight!

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Authentic Mapo Dofu (Tofu) Recipe, a Szechuan delight!

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One of my favorite Szechuan foods is Mapo Dofu. It is a peasant dish with tons of flavor and textures.It is spicy, slightly crunchy and yet cooling and smooth at the same time.  I make mine with ground pork, but you can also use beef. If you get all of your ingredients together mise en place, this cooks quickly. Start the rice cooker before you do anything. Note, there is one ingredient that you may have a hard time finding, it is fermented broad bean sauce. It is available on Amazon.com. 

There are several stories about the naming of  Mapo Tofu, but the commonly accepted myth is that this dish was created by a pock-faced old woman. She was cast out of the Sichuan capital of Chengdu due to her disfigurement. One day, a weary trader happened upon her shack and she was so delighted by the company that she scraped together her meager provisions to create this dish.

broad bean

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns, divided
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 1/2 pounds silken tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound ground lean pork
  • 6 garlic cloves grated on a microplane grater
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger grated on a microplane grater
  • 2 tablespoons fermented broad bean paste
  • 4 tablespoons Xiaoxing wine or sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken  or beef stock
  • 1/4 cup roasted chili oil 
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced scallion greens
Mise en place

Mise en place

Method

  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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Best Brunswick Stew Recipe, Sassy Style!

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Brunswick on table with window

Brunswick Stew is a sassy one pot dish full of flavor. It is however a dish with a questionable heritage. There are three schools of thought on the origin of Brunswick Stew.  The first is from Queen Victoria’s adoration of the dish coming from the original Brunswick: Braunschweig, Germany. Next Brunswick, Virginia and the nearby coastal communities in North Carolina claim the dish started there. Finally, Brunswick, Georgia and St. Simons Island, Georgia also say the dish originated there. The two US versions vary slightly. In Virginia the protein is usually chicken. In Georgia it is a mixed plate of smoked chicken, pork and sometimes beef. What is similar in the two recipes is a tomato base with a variety of vegetables. The Georgia version is sassier… more vinegar and more smoke and that is what I am presenting here with a Charleston twist, okra and fresh tomatoes.  One more thing, the original versions were made in hunting camps and often contained opossum, squirrel or rabbit, I am NOT going there, but feel free to add them if you wish.

The secret is in the sassy sauce! Yield one gallon. Freezes well or serves a crowd!

The Sassy Sauce

Brusnwick sauce

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of butter
  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 cup of liquid smoke
  • 1/8 cup of hot sauce (I like Texas Pete for this)
  • ½ cup brown sugar or cane syrup if you can find it

Method:

  • In a 2 quart sauce pan, melt the butter
  • Add ketchup, mustard & vinegar and stir to blend
  • Add garlic, peppers, liquid smoke, hot sauce and brown sugar and stir to blend.
  • Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, do not allow to boil. Reserve for the stew.

The Stew

Brusnwick potatoes

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of butter
  • 1 cup of diced onion
  • 3 cups of small diced potatoes (Yukon or red potatoes are best)
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound each: smoked turkey or chicken, pulled pork and ham
  • 2 cups each: frozen lima beans, frozen or fresh corn, frozen peas, fresh cut okra & fresh cut tomatoes (any fresh veggies can be added)
  • ¼ cup liquid smoke

Brunswick Simmering

Method:

  • In a large stock pot, melt the butter and cook the onions and potatoes over medium heat for a few minutes
  • Add chicken stock, tomatoes and the meats and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes
  • Add the veggies, reserved sauce and place on a very low simmer for 1 hour

Brunswick bowl

Serve with cornbread or hush puppies