Ma Po Tofu
with rice / spicy green beans
This spicy, saucy Chinese tofu, which we last featured in 2020, has gained a following of fans. Some reviewers have even tracked down Szechuan peppercorns to give this dish its signature mouth-numbing spice.
Smarts: In China, Szechuan peppercorns are traditionally toasted and then ground in the first step of this recipe. Since they can be difficult to find, we use chili-garlic sauce to spice our version.
- Green beans - 1 lb , trimmed
- Oil, sesame - 2 Tbsp
- Ma Po Sauce (ingredients listed separately) - 1 Tbsp
- Garlic - 2 cloves , chopped
- Ginger, fresh - 2 tsp , grated
- Ketchup - 4 Tbsp
- Soy sauce, low-sodium - 2 Tbsp
- Chinese black bean sauce - 2 Tbsp (find this in the international aisle as regular, black bean garlic, or a spicy version called doubanjiang)
- Sugar - 1 tsp
- Chili-garlic sauce - 2 tsp (sub any hot sauce)
- Green onions - 2 stalks , chopped, green and white parts separate
- Tofu, soft - 16 oz , 1" / 2.5 cm cubes (sub firm tofu)
- Cornstarch - 2 Tbsp
- Stock, any type - 2 cups
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Ma Po Sauce (ingredients listed separately) - 8 Tbsp
- Lime juice - 2 tsp
- Rice, uncooked white or brown - 1 cup
Garlic / Ginger / Green beans - Prep as directed and store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Make Ma Po sauce - Combine garlic, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, black bean sauce, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Rice - (Double if making Thursday's meal.) For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Green onions - Prep as directed. Store green and white parts separately. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
Tofu - Drain liquid off tofu and slice into 1" / 2.5 cm cubes.
Heat a wok over medium-high heat for green beans. Add sesame oil then green beans to heated oil. Saute for 10 to 12 minutes, until browned and blistered.
While green beans cook, whisk cornstarch into stock.
Stir Ma Po sauce (portion for green beans) into green beans and remove from heat. Season to taste with some salt. Set aside, covered to keep warm.
Return wok to medium-high heat and add cooking oil. Add white parts of green onions and saute until fragrant, ~2 minutes. Pour remaining sauce and stock / cornstarch mixture over onions and bring to a simmer. Add tofu and reduce heat to medium. Simmer gently to let the flavors come together, 2 to 3 minutes more. Taste tofu and add some chili-garlic sauce if you'd like it to be spicier.
If rice was made ahead, warm in the microwave (reserve half if doubled.)
Top tofu with lime juice and green parts of green onions. Serve with rice and green beans on the side. Enjoy!