Photograph by Bill Phelps Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Theo Vamvounakis

Sichuan Tofu Stew

Mains from Issue 2 – Fall / Winter 2013 – Traces

Mapo Tofu, the legendarily spicy tofu and pork dish emanating from China’s Sichuan province is the inspiration for our sinus-stimulating stew. Its tongue-numbing traces will stick around long after you’ve cleaned the bowl. A true sting operation.

serves 6 to 8

  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 4 scallions, green and white part separated, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 3 Tbsp chili bean paste (made with soy or broad beans)
  • 1 tsp chili paste with garlic
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ Tbsp sugar
  • 2 blocks silken tofu, cubed
  • Plenty of white or brown rice

  • 1

    Stir together cornstarch and ½ cup broth in a small bowl. Heat peppercorns in a small skillet just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl, cool, then grind or crush to a fine powder.

  • 2

    Heat oil in a medium pot until hot. Stir in garlic, ginger, and whites of scallions and cook stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add black beans and Sichuan pepper and cook 1 minute.

  • 3

    Add pork breaking it up into small pieces and cook until it’s no longer pink. Stir in both chili pastes and cook 1 minute. Stir in soy sauce, sugar, and remaining 2 cups stock then gently simmer 5 minutes. Give cornstarch mixture a stir then stir into pot and simmer 1 minute just until stew thickens. Gently stir in tofu and scallion greens and simmer until just heated through.