TakeMeBackTuesday has me reminiscing about classic Chinese cooking shows from my youth. Any other Pinoy kids out there remember binge-watching Cooking Master Boy?
One episode forever seared into my memory banks was when Mao went up against the Master Chef to recreate Mapo Tofu. For the uninitiated, Mapo Tofu is a spicy twist on silky tofu in a mouth-numbing, tongue-tingling chili bean sauce from the Sichuan province. Everything about it just screams hellfire and delicious danger.
So I told you this a few weeks back when I got some Dandan Sichuan Red Chili Oil Soy Bean Paste from Shopee. Ugh, I bought the 1.1 kilo and I still have them sitting in the refrigerator. It was just too much for my Taiwanese Chinese Hot Beef Noodles. So gotta find something to do with them. Anyhow, thewokoflife has a Mapo Tofu recipe that looks perfect so just had to try them and maybe summon my inner Mao.
Watching Mao nervously dice those beans and mince that meat, trying to nail each component to authentic perfection while the intimidating head chef looked fascinated all of us, me and my siblings and each episode had us glued to our seats.
Of course, Mao came through in the clutch. His Mapo Tofu blew the judges away and he secured his spot as Cooking Master. And we’ll all shout, “It ay ang, ito ay ang (name of ingrediant) mula sa Ilog ng Tralala!”, I swear. I still get nostalgic just thinking about it, the power of good cooking bringing people together. Probably the reason why all of my siblings grew up to be foodies and adventurous with food.
Anyways, after that episode aired I just had to try Mapo Tofu for myself. The challenge was finding all the authentic Chinese ingredients growing up in the Philippines. Living in the province limited us to the regular hard tofu and since we had no fermented bean paste either, we just grew up with a totally different tofu recipe which is the Tofu in Oyster Sauce (as delicious but different). Fortunately, that challenge has been overcome since the arrival of Shopee and Lazada. If you give your cravings a few days, you can order a hard-to-find ingredient and cook a recipe yourself. This has an extra ingredient -our favorite Donardo Chili Garlic Oil for that extra kick! Not that traditional with Mapo Tofu but so much more awesom -er.
Now here’s my tweaked spicy Sichuan Mapo Tofu recipe for you! No master chef credentials required, just a serious craving for a mouth-numbing nirvana. Here’s how I made it:
Pinoy Mapo Tofu
- 400 grams silken tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 200 grams ground pork
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1/4 cup doubanjiang (fermented bean paste)
- 1 tbsp chili oil, plus more for serving
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 chicken cube *Optional
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Green onions, sliced for garnish
- In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add pork and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. .
- Set pork to the side of the pan and add ginger and garlic. Cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Whisk in bean paste, chili oil, soy sauce, and sugar. Stir to combine.
- Add water and half chicken cube and simmer.
- Mix cornstarch with 1 tbsp water. Stir slurry into the sauce and let thicken, about 1 minute.
- Stir in tofu and gently toss to coat.
- Add sesame oil. Let simmer a minute more to allow flavors to develop.
- Serve immediately over rice, garnished with green onions and extra chili oil. Enjoy the numbness!
As always, let me know how it turns out if you decide to give it a try. Happy Tuesday friends – now someone cue up Cooking Master Boy on Netflix!
Love and literal fire in your mouth,
#MapoTofu #ChineseCooking #CookingShowsThatShapedUs