This is my favorite Chinese dish. I love pork with tofu, which confuses people who aren't Chinese and think of tofu as a meat substitute. Chinese people see tofu as an ingredient, and one that's often best served with meat.
I changed Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe a little, such as seasoning the oil with the Sichuan peppercorns. The result is something that subtly numbs the tongue. Other than that, the ingredients are pretty standard for mapo, although sometimes you see recipes that also include ginger and xiao xing (Chinese cooking wine). Eileen Yin-Fei Lo even uses ketchup!
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chile bean sauce
- 1 tbsp fermented black beans
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 block soft tofu, cut into 1" cubes
- chili oil (optional)
Combine the pork, garlic, chile bean sauce, fermented black beans, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and two-thirds of the green onions. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add peppercorns and cook for a few seconds until they start to smoke. Strain out the peppercorns, reserving the oil.
Add the pork and cook until it's no longer pink.
Carefully fold in the tofu. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish and top with the rest of the green onions. For added kick, drizzle a little chili oil.
Serve with steamed rice.