Mapo tofu – lazy, limited pantry way

Mapo tofu was one of my favorite foods when I was young, only I didn’t know it was called that and I didn’t know it’s typically spicy because my mom made traditional Chinese dishes not spicy because of us kids.  (She also made Kraft mac and cheese without milk and butter, so it wasn’t until college when my roommate made it that way for the first time for me; thus began a long journey that will probably culminate in my eventual cholesterol saturation.)  For a while, I was making mapo tofu with packaged sauce from the Asian market, but I realized it was probably cheaper to buy a jar of black bean paste and make it from scratch.  The flavor isn’t hard to get right through taste–it’s pretty much meaty, spicy brown flavor with tofu and green onions.  I used this recipe (I am normally a little skeptical of recipes that come from something as ambiguous as about.com, but it worked out) and instead of Chinese black beans and chili bean paste, I used Lee Kum Kee’s black bean garlic sauce and Sriracha chili sauce because that’s what I have in the pantry.

This was also accidentally vegetarian because I used leftover Trader Joe’s meatless ground meat which has the texture and flavor of old cardboard.  Since mapo tofu is very spicy and salty, I figured all the sauce would mask its terribleness, and it worked.  The recipe’s method of marinating the meat/non-meat in soy sauce and cornstarch helps flavor the meat while contributing a thicker consistency to the finished sauce.  I also used regular hot water instead of chicken stock because after all the soy sauce, black bean, and chili sauce, you really don’t need any more sodium…

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About ireneenroute

This is a blog full of photos taken by a cell phone.
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