A dear friend brought me a jar of Trader Joe’s Chili Onion Crunch seasoning a couple months ago. This interesting concoction is great to drizzle over rice, egg, and vegetable dishes. It has a mild but delicious combination of spices. I thought this would add a really nice flavor to a Chinese dish I like called Mapo Tofu. To make this dish I also needed to pick up some more interesting ingredients at an Asian grocery store, so headed to my local favorite, which is called HK Asian Market. I love strolling through every aisle and picking out things that speak to me!
Mapo Tofu is a Chinese dish that originated from Sichuan province. This dish is made with tofu in a spicy sauce that is thin, oily, and bright red. The red color comes from spicy bean sauce and a chili seasoning. It was interesting to find out the meaning of Mapo Tofu. “Ma” stands for pockmarks and “po” means an old woman or grandma. The dish is sometimes translated as pockmarked grandma’s bean curd!
Mapo Tofu can be found in restaurants in China as well as in Japan and Korea where the flavor is adapted to local tastes. In the West, the dish is often toned down in terms of spiciness. You can make this dish without meat such that it is vegetarian, using shiitakes or other edible mushrooms as substitutes for meat.
The version I make below is somewhat spicy but nearly as much as it could be. You can make it hotter by adding chili flakes or dried hot chilis. This is one of my all-time favorite tofu recipes. My family liked it so much they asked for second and third helpings.
- 1/2 lbs. ground pork
- 1 (12.3 oz) pkg. extra firm or firm tofu, cut into med. sized cubes
- 3 dried mushrooms
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 4 cloves garlic (1 tbsp.), chopped
- 2 green onions thinly sliced, white and green part separated
- 1 tbsp. beef seasoning
- 1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. chili onion crunch seasoning
- 1 tbsp. spicy bean sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
Soak dried mushrooms in a cup of hot water for 30 minutes, then remove the tuff stem, and slice thinly. Squeeze out some of the water from the mushroom and reserve the mushroom water. Measure out the mushroom water to make 1 cup of stock. Add more water if needed to make a cup.
Transfer the mushroom water to a bowl, then whisk in beef seasoning, soy sauce, chili onion crunch seasoning, and hot bean sauce. Set aside.
Heat a large wok over high heat. Add oil. When the oil is hot, add garlic and the white part of the green onions. Fry for about 30 seconds, then add the sliced mushrooms. Stir fry for 30 seconds, then add pork. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes. Next, add the tofu, stir, and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
Add the sauce mix to the wok. Cook for 2-3 more minutes. In the meantime, mix water, cornstarch, and sesame oil in small bowl. Pour this over the pork, then stir. Once it thickens a little, turn of the heat and stir in the green part of the green onions. Taste for seasoning.
Serve over hot steamed rice and enjoy!
Did you make this dish? I’d love to know how it turns out! Feel free to like this post and comment or use the hashtag #globaldinein on Instagram.