Recipe from chef Cara Stadler of Tao Yuan in Brunswick and Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland. This recipe requires a number of specialty ingredients; find them at Asian markets in Portland (note: Hong Kong Market focuses on Chinese goods). Mapo Doufu is a wok-style dish, which requires a wok and high heat from start to end. If you don’t own a wok, a pot with high edges can work. It’s a spicy dish, and part of the joy is the numbing effect of the Szechuan peppercorns, but if you prefer, you can tone down the spice/heat.
Serves 2 as a main dish with rice, or 4 as a side dish
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup (about 1/2 pound) ground pork
1 teaspoon thinly sliced garlic
2-3 tablespoons thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
11/2 teaspoons ground Sichuan pepper
11/2 teaspoon ground dried arbol pepper
1 teaspoon Pixian doubanjiang (bean paste)
1 teaspoon Toban djan (chili bean sauce)
1 teaspoon Chinese black bean chili sauce
Shaoxing rice wine
Half of one (12-ounce) block medium or firm tofu, cubed and blanched for 1 minute
Chicken stock, about 2 cups
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste
Rice, for serving
Heat the wok over high heat. Add the canola oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pork, garlic, leeks and ginger. Cook until aromatic and the pork is cooked but has not picked up color, 4-5 minutes.
Add the Szechuan pepper and arbol chile. Add the bean paste, chili bean sauce and Chinese black bean chili sauce. Cook the mixture about 1 minute more. Deglaze the wok with a splash of Shaoxing. Add the tofu, and barely cover the mixture in the wok with chicken stock. Simmer about 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce just before serving. Serve with rice.