Mushroom Mapo Tofu
A well-loved Sichuanese dish, this Mushroom Mapo Tofu is made with meaty shiitake mushrooms, leek and broth, layered over with bright peppercorns and a magical sauce made of fermented black beans – the result is flavour amplified!
Put the Sichuan peppercorns into a mortar and grind well. Take a sniff and revel in their strange and wonderful grapefruit smell.
Heat the rapeseed oil in large frying pan on a medium flame. Once hot, add the garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cook for 6 minutes, then add the leek and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes, until the leek softens and unravels. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
Put the sesame oil, ground Sichuan peppercorns, chilli bean sauce, soy sauce and black beans into the same pan and fry for a couple of minutes, until the oil separates. Add the tofu, stir to coat, then return the vegetables to the pan. Pour over the stock, bring to the boil, then stir in the cornflour paste and heat until the sauce thickens. Take off the heat and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the spring onion strips and serve with plain white rice.
Recipe taken from East: 120 Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing by Meera Sodha, published by Penguin Books, priced £20 in hardback
“Mapo tofu is a well-loved Sichuanese dish that originated in Chengdu centuries ago. The fact that it is still served in most Sichuan restaurants (and weekly in the Sodha household) gives you some idea of its popularity. My version of this famous dish is made with meaty shiitake mushrooms, leek and broth, all layered over with bright Sichuan peppercorns and a magical sauce (toban djan) made of fermented black beans. The result is flavour amplified – and that never grows old.
Note: Many big supermarkets stock Lee Kum Kee chilli bean sauce (a fermented broad bean paste). The salted fermented black beans, however, are not so easily found: look online or in Chinese supermarkets. If you can’t find them, just leave them out and season the dish to taste.”