Sometimes in Asia I forget that I’m Western. I try so hard to be local that my sister had to tell me the strange accent I was putting on was really unsettling. I literally talk about the best food places with every cab driver and happily argue when we don’t agree. I have started calling anyone above fifty Aunty and Uncle and anyone who serves me food, Boss. And yesterday… when I purchased a Chinese newspaper. The people in line didn’t need to know I was merely buying it as a food photography prop. Sure, they looked at me with severe confusion but no doubt were impressed. Local. Right here.
Ma Po Doufu sichuan tofu & beef
3tbs shaoxing wine – Chinese cooking wine
3tbs soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock
200g beef mince
2tsp sichuan peppercorns
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Knob of ginger, finely chopped
3 packets of firm tofu cut into little squares
4tbs red chilli bean paste – hot chilli sauce can be substituted
1tbs chilli powder
Finely chopped chives to serve
Combine the wine, soy sauce, chicken stock and sugar in a cup. In a separate cup add 3tbs of water to the cornflower and stir into a thick paste. Leave both aside.
Add the oil to a large wok and while its heating crush your sichuan peppers in a mortar and pestle. Once the oil is smoking slightly add the beef, garlic, ginger and peppers quickly stir frying until the beef is cooked. Add the tofu to heat through.
Pour over your sauce and stir through the chilli paste, chilli powder, cornflour mixture and on a high heat continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the liquids have reduced.
Taste here. If you want more punch add extra chilli and shaoxing, add soy for a more salty flavour and more sugar if it needs sweetness.
Sprinkle with the chives and extra chilli powder and serve with rice.