Mapo tofu is all about two things: texture and spice. This is a Sichuan dish, which means it’s gloriously spicy. The flavours are bold–fierce, even–and in contrast, the silky cubes of tofu are graceful and delicate. They will hold their shape in a fire-red pool of sauce if you’re careful with them. And then there’s the fried ground meat, usually pork, in the traditional recipes. This is a recipe I developed with fabulous photographer and fellow lover of all foods, Jenny Gao. In our recipe king mushrooms stand in for the meat, they are shredded and seasoned, and after marinading, as much liquid as possible is squeezed from them. They hold up to frying and are a perfect substitute for the pork.
I like this dish punishingly strong–you can play around with how many chilies you use. A dish that must be served over a bowl of fresh, hot white rice, it’s bracing but ultimately so comforting. Be prepared to sweat and go back for more.
This story and the recipe that goes with it can be found in “HEAT”, ISSUE 006 of Le Sauce Magazine! Please get it here: http://www.lesauce.com/app