Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mabo Dofu

An expat mom here in Japan was asking for ideas to expand her cooking repertoire. She has four children and, I'm sure the easier, the better. I have one child, and that is ALWAYS my motto! PP (Pre-parenthood), Ryu and I liked to try different foods out and then try to create them at home. His Dad is a Chinese food fan, and we enjoyed trying some of his favorites. I found a Chinese cookbook at the 100 yen store, and we have tried MANY of the recipes and adapted them to our tastes and made them EASY to cook.

This is a hot (according to the amount of spice you put into it) dish using ground meat and tofu. We serve it over/beside rice. A nice winter dish! You can also substitute egg plant for the tofu, and have a nice summer dish!

Mabo Dofu

200 gm (1/2 pound or so) of ground meat. I use chicken.
1/2 tsp. garlic finely chopped (or out of the tube! I love Japanese spice tubes!)
1-3 tsp. tobanjan This is where the heat comes in. It comes in a small jar and is red. Helpful? Please start with a little and work your way up. I probably only use 1/4 tsp. I'm not as into hot as Ryu is. And, with Jun eating from the same pot, I leave it out now and Ryu adds rayu to his serving.
2 cups bouillon soup I use two cubes and 2 cups of water
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. sake
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
300 gm block (again - 1/2 pound or so) of the harder kind of tofu (momen)

Fry up your meat with the garlic and tobanjan. Add the soup and other flavorings and bring to a boil. Cut the tofu up into large dice sized pieces. Add to the pot, and wait for it to return to a boil. At this stage, I sometimes turn it off and continue with other things - like folding laundry or taking care of Jun - who is into puzzles and dancing in her kimono, lately. My theory is that this "down time" gives the flavorings time to soak into the tofu. But, do as you like. It is only a theory. However, if you use eggplant, I think this extra time is very necessary for the eggplant to get nice and soft and soak up the soup!

Then combine 2 tsp. cornstarch/katakuriko (potato starch) with 2 Tbsp. cold water. When it is mixed well, pour slowly into the hot tofu soup, and stir till thickened.

Garnish with a little chopped green onion and a quick sprinkle of sesame oil.

I have also been known to add boiled and squeezed spinach to this dish, green peas, frozen corn, grated carrot, etc. Also, Jun likes it before it is thickened, as a soup.

Serve over rice. Nice and yummy on a cold day!


Abigail said...

Oooh, I LOVE mabo dofu!!! One of my favorites but I haven't made it in a while - this gives me the oompf to do it again!

Trisha said...

Sometimes I add a little miso to my mabo dofu. It gives it another layer of flavor and my husband even said it tasted close to what they serve at our favorite Chinese place. So good!

illahee said...

mmm, sounds great! i have had tobanjan in my fridge once. it went bad. but maybe if i made this on a regular basis....

Kim said...

Abigail - I look forward to reading your post of your recipe!

Trisha - adding miso! What a great idea! Especially with no tobanjan (for Jun) now, the miso would add some great flavor! Thanks!

Illahee - let me know if you try it!