I love watching anime almost as much as I love cooking. And when I discovered “Shokugeki no Soma” also know as “Food Wars” it didn’t take long until I had to make something from the show. I settled on Mapo Tofu. A Szechuan dish made by the character Terunori Kuga at the Moon Banquet Festival in episode 38.
Vegitarian: 200g finely chopped mushrooms instead of minced meat
• 200g minced meat, I prefer pork
• 4-500 g soft tofu, cut into ca 2 cm cubes
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tbs minced ginger
• 2 spring onions, finely chopped.
• 1,5 tbs Szechuan peppercorns
• Ca 3 tbs chilli oil
• 1tbs soy sauce
• 1 tbs Chinese cooking wine or sake
• 2 tbs Doubanjiang – fermented chilli-bean paste
• 1 tbs Chinkiang Vinegar
• 2 dl chicken broth, vegetarian broth or water
• 1 tbs cornstarch mixed with 2 tbs water
• Salt or sugar to taste
• Chilli flakes if you want it more spicy
Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the Szechuan peppercorns. Fry them while stirring until they become fragrant, about 5 min. Be careful so they don’t burn. Grind in a mortel or spice grinder and set aside for later.
Bring a pot of water to a simmer and lightly salt it. Gently put the tofu in the water so it doesn’t fall apart. Let the tofu simmer gently for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and leave it in the water until later.
Vegetarian: Fry the diced mushrooms over medium to high heat until they have released some of their liquid and start to shrivel up. Try not to use much oil while frying. Set aside for later.
Heat your chilli oil and Doubanjiang over medium heat. Fry until the oil and Doubanjiang start to separate, a couple of minutes. Add in the meat (or pre fried mushrooms) and fry until the meat is well cooked. You want the minced meat to be in small bits and almost crispy without being burned. Add in the garlic and ginger and fry for a couple of minutes.
Add 2 dl of water or broth to the wok and stir. Let it come up to a simmer and then add the ground Szechuan peppercorns, Chinkiang Vinegar, soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine. Stir and let it simmer for a couple of minutes until the alcohol has evaporated. Taste the sauce to see if you want it more spicy. At this point it should be a bit more spicy than you normally like, since the tofu and the rice will mellow it out. I like my Mapo Tofu a bit sour, but add in some sugar if you think it is too sour at this point.
Add in half of the cornstarch and water slurry and stir. The sauce should thicken at once. Carefully add in the tofu and stir it gently to coat the cubes without breaking them. Add more of the corn slurry if you want the sauce to be thicker or more water if you want it to be thinner.
Let it simmer gently for about 5 minutes to let the tofu soak up flavour from the sauce.
Add the chopped scallions just before serving. Transfer to a serving bowl and eat it with some wite rice.