Foodstuff: Ma-Po Tofu Sauce Mix

Ma-Po Tofu Sauce Mix 1

I picked this little item up on a whim while shopping for other stuff. I don’t use pre-packaged sauce mixes all that frequently, nor do I use tofu often, but I have been curious about the classic Sichuan dish,  Mapo Doufu (spelled ‘Mabo Tofu’ here), and I thought this might be an interesting way to experience it for the first time. The package states that you need to add nothing except ground meat and tofu, and so I used nothing else myself except for just a little scallion…

Ma-Po Tofu Sauce Mix 2

I departed from the cooking instructions only slightly. The package directs that you add diced tofu at the very end but I took the additional step of lightly frying it first as I like the way this improves the texture of the curd.

 

Ma-Po Tofu Sauce Mix 3

You can choose the meat you wish to add (beef, pork, or chicken are recommended). I used ground pork, which is added at 2oz to 14oz of Tofu. I thinly sliced a scallion first, reserving the dark green parts for garnish, and added the white and light green parts to the meat as it cooked. I do not think that this small amount will affect the taste of the dish so significantly as to affect my assessment of the sauce mix).

 

Ma-Po Tofu Sauce Mix 4

The package suggests that you add the sauce from its foil pouch to the meat and, after it is hot, add the tofu. I reversed this and sautéed the tofu with the meat and finally added the sauce, cooking only long enough after that to get the sauce hot.

 

Ma-Po Tofu Sauce Mix 5

Here is a serving of my finished meal … In all, the result was actually pretty nice, but, not, I have to say, quite what I would expect of a proper Sichuan version …

The Sichuan Mapo Doufu is a ‘Ma-La’, or ‘numbing-hot- dish, with Sichuan peppercorns providing the numbing effect, and chili in some form providing the heat. Mostly, Doubanjiang paste is used for chili heat and this is indeed the case here. There is however, no hint of Sichuan peppercorns at all, which is a bit of a ‘flaw’, if you will. The other thing is that the sauce contains tomato paste, and while this is not unheard of, it is also not traditional, and produces a result that probably different from what many Sichuanese would regard as a proper Mapo sauce.

All that being said, I like this, but I would still like to try making this dish from scratch…

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