Monday, October 16, 2006

Korean-style Mapo Tofu

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy


1 lb. tofu (firm or soft)
6 oz. ground turkey
3/4 cup Korean kim chee*, roughly minced
1 T black bean sauce
1 t white pepper
1 T sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
1-1/2 T cornstarch
1 T oyster sauce
2 T canola oil
1 clove garlic, smashed

In small bowl, combine ground turkey with white pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic. Let sit for 10 minutes.

In large skillet or wok, heat canola oil and add ground turkey mixture. Brown over medium high heat, about 2 minutes. (Drain excess oil if necessary. Meat should be moist but not sitting in soup.) Add black bean sauce, mixing it thoroughly into the meat.

Cut tofu into roughly 1-inch cubes and add to turkey with kim chee. Carefully fold in all the ingredients. In small bowl, mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup of cold water to create a slurry. Turn heat on skillet to high and add slurry slowly to create a thick sauce. (If you add too much cornstarch and your dish is too thick, just add a bit of water to thin it out.) Finally, add oyster sauce to taste. Plate over rice and serve.

Makes two servings.

Pair with Pinot Grigio or Gewurztrahimer.

* Kim chee is sold in a jar in the refrigerated section of your grocery store under the specialty Asian foods, or at any Asian grocery store. If you can't find kim chee, then substitute with one or two red chilies (julienned) for heat.

TIPS: Tofu comes in a variety of textures but the basic descriptions you’ll often see at grocery stores are “silken,” “firm” and “extra firm.” “Silken” is the same as soft tofu, and this is often used for steamed dishes or for soups. Silken tofu is so soft, it’s almost like a custard. Firm or “regular” tofu is just that, firmer than soft but still with a smooth texture. Extra firm is a real hardy tofu that can stand up to stir-frying. For this dish, I generally use the firm because it has the nice soft texture while still retaining some of its shape. But if you really want your mapo tofu dish to feel like comfort food and aren’t worried about looks, then the soft tofu creates a nice creaminess to your dish because it’ll break apart and gel with the ground meat. It might look like gruel, but it’ll really feel like it’s sticking to your ribs. If you decide to use silken or soft tofu, then add the tofu last to avoid too much mixing but just enough to pick up the other flavors of the dish.

MEAT MATTERS: In this dish, I use ground turkey because it’s lean and good for you. But traditional mapo tofu is made with either ground beef or ground pork. The fat from the ground pork adds more flavor but can produce a lot of oil, which is why you may need to drain your pan of excess oil after you’ve browned the meat.

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