The versatile and delicious Beancurd (or Tofu), I just love eating it and so does my family. There are so many ways to prepare beancurd as many of you probably know. For this recipe, I have chosen to omit the fermented black bean, and I have opted to use some chopped prawns instead of beef. The result was great. I'm sure it will undoubtedly taste great as well with fermented black beans and beef.
Recipe adapted from Sichuan Cookery By Fuchsia Dunlop
Ma Po Tofu
1 Block of Beancurd (about 500 g)
4 Baby Leeks or Spring Onions (Scallions)
100 ml Groundnut Oil
150 g Minced Beef
2 1/2 Tbsp Sichuanese Chili Bean Paste
1 Tbsp Black Fermented Black Beans
2 tsp Ground Sichuanese Chilies (only for chili fiends)
250 ml Chicken Stock
1 tsp White Sugar
2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
Sea Salt to taste
3 Tbsp Potato Flour or Corn Flour-mixed with 4 Tbsp Cold Water
1/2 tsp Ground Roasted Sichuan Pepper
Cut the beancurd into 2 cm cubes and leave to steep in a very hot or gently simmering water which you have lightly salted. Slice the leeks or spring onions at a steep angle into thin slices.
Season the wok, then add the groundnut oil and heat over a high flame until smoking. Add the minced beef and stir-fry until it is crispy and a little brown, but not yet dry.
Turn the heat down to medium, add the chili bean paste and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until the oil is a rich red color. Add the black fermented beans and ground chilies and stir-fry for another 20-30 seconds until they are both fragrant and the chilies have added their color to the oil.
Pour in the stock, stir well and add the drained beancurd. Mix it in gently by pushing the back of your ladle or wok scoop gently from the edges to the center of the wok - do not stir or the beancurd may break up. Season with the sugar, a couple of tsp of soy sauce and salt to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the beancurd has absorbed the flavors of the sauce.
Add the leeks or spring onions and gently stir in. When they are just cooked, add the potato flour mixture in two or three stages, mixing well, until the sauce has thickened enough to cling glossily to the meat and beancurd. Don't add more than you need. Finally pour everything into a deep bowl, scatter with ground Sichuan pepper and serve.