What makes a dish? I couldn't figure out at first what made this dish so tasty. Though it has only a few simple ingredients, it has a distinct taste. Upon finding a recipe, I still didn't see any ingredient that stands out as different. Although everything else is pretty standard Chinese ingredient, it's the small amount of bean sauce and chilli bean paste that steers it slightly away from the norm. The sauce is excitingly hot and tasty which goes so well with the creamy soft tofu. It is meant to be eaten with rice but I like it as a stand alone dish eaten as you would pasta with meat sauce.
It has a rather rude story behind it. It was apparently created by a woman who had, let's just say, problem skin. It was originally called Pock-ma meaning (no need to translate really) pockmarked woman. Ma Po is nonetheless kinder as it still means the same. That is some thanks for creating a delicious dish.
Yield: 4-6 servings
1/2 c. minced pork
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1 tsp. light soy sauce
2 tsps. shao hsing wine or sherry
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. corn flour
500-600 gms. regular tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tbsps. cooking oil
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
1/3 cup of spring onions, white and green parts separated, sliced into rings
1 tbsp. black bean sauce
2 tsps. chilli bean sauce
2 tbsps. sugar
2 tbsps. shiao hsing wine or sherry
1/2 tsp. corn flour (corn starch) dispersed in 2 tbsps of water
1 tsp. sesame oil
Season the minced pork with the light and dark soy, wine or sherry, sesame oil brown sugar and corn flour. Stir to mix then leave aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Boil plenty of water in a wok or pan. Add the tofu then take the pan off the heat and leave for 2 minutes to firm up its texture. Transfer to a colander to drain off the water.
Heat up another, wok then add 2 tbsps. of oil. Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute before adding the white parts of the spring onions. Stir for another minute.
Add the seasoned pork and stir until it changes colour and absorbs all the liquid it gives out.
Add the bean sauces, sugar and water. Bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Add the corn flour slurry while stirring to thicken.
Add the tofu and simmer for another 2 minutes to let it absorb some sauce.
Add the spring onions and sesame oil. Simmer for a minute. It's now done and ready to serve.
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