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Mabo Tofu

(by Sherilyn Siy)

When I was growing up, a visit to a Chinese restaurant was not complete without an order of mabo tofu. Originally from Sichuan, this dish is typically so spicy, we would order it with a request to make it "mild." When the dish arrived, my dad would add chili peppers to his portion and work up a good sweat. My kids, including my one-year-old, can tolerate a small amount of spicy doubanjiang. Adjust it according to your taste.

Seasoning ingredients:

a knob of grated ginger

1 - 2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed

1 t. spicy doubanjiang

1 t. additive-free chicken stock granules

1 T. sake

1 t. sugar

1 1/2 T. soy sauce

sesame oil for sautéing

1/4 lb. ground pork or chicken

approximately 12 oz. silken (called kinu in Japanese) tofu, cut into small cubes

chopped spring onions for garnish

(if needed) a small amount of water and potato starch or cornstarch to thicken sauce

Mix seasoning ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

Heat sesame oil and sauté ground meat until lightly browned.

Add seasonings.

Heat through and add water if necessary.

Carefully add tofu, so as not to break it up too much.

If there’s too much water in the dish, thicken the sauce with the starch mixture.

Remove from heat and top with spring onions.

Best served over a bowl of steaming plain rice.

(Read Anyone Can Cook, the story that accompanies this recipe.)

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