Recipe for an authentic Sichuan style dish: spicy and hot tofu and mince mix
Although in Europe tofu is a vegetarian meat substitute, it is simply a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine, sometimes combined with minced meat, like in this traditional dish from Sichuan cuisine. Very hot, spicy and extremely yummy.
Vegans and Vegetarians, skip the minced meat. Another choice is to replace the meat with mushrooms either dried or fresh ones.
Ingredients for 4 persons
450 g silken tofu
150 g minced meat (beef, pork or mixed)
3 scallions (finely chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
3 cm ginger, finely minced (around 1 teaspoon)
3 dried Sichuan Facing Heaven chillies
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1½ tbsp Doubanjiang* (hot brown chili bean paste)
½ tbsp Dou-chi (fermented and salted black soybeans)
½ tsp Sichuan pepper (for making fresh ground powder)
½ tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp cooking oil
400 ml water or broth for braising
1 tbsp cornstarch
Cut tofu into 2 cm square cubes. Clean the scallions, chop finely and divide green and white. Clean the garlic cloves and the ginger and chop finely.
MIx the mined meat with the sesame oil. Then, heat up around 2 tbsp of oil in a wok, fry the minced meat until crispy. Transfer out the meat and leave the oil in. Stir in the doubanjiang paste and fry for 1 minute over low heat and then add garlic, scallion white, ginger and fermented black beans to cook for 30 seconds until it begins to smell. Then crunch the chili peppers and mix in.
Add water or broth to the seasonings and bring to a boil. Gently slide in the tofu cubes. Add light soy sauce and the mince. Slow the heat after boiling and then simmer for 6-8 minutes. Then add chopped garlic greens.
Stir the cornstarch into some cold water and then pour slowly into the simmering pot. Salt if necessary and add a pinch of sugar.
Transfer out when almost all the seasonings stick to tofu cubes. Sprinkle chopped scallion greens.
Serve immediately with steamed rice and garnish with some chopped scallion greens.
*Doubanjiang (also called Douban, Toban-djan or Chili bean sauce) is a spicy, salty pasted made from fermented soybeans, broad beans, salt, rice, chillies and spices. It is often called "the soul of Sichuan cuisine". You can buy it in Asian stores or search in online stores.
Image source: Fotolia #55958369 © paul_brighton