Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ma Po Tofu

This is Cooking Light's version of a fiery hot Chinese dish made with tofu and a little ground beef.

This was the perfect meal to make on the night that I workout in the evening, because I was able to prep everything before I left, including starting the rice cooker and getting the tofu under a heavy skillet to start pressing out the water. Then when I returned, dinner came together in minutes. Well, more than a few minutes, but you get my point. In no time at all I was in my pjs, curled up on the couch with my plate and a glass of wine, watching Arrested Development. That's right folks, that right there was a glimpse into my wild and crazy life.

Ma Po Tofu
adapted from Cooking Light - April 2010
serves 4 (1/2 cup rice, 3/4 cup tofu mixture per serving)

Notes: I pressed my tofu for 1 hour rather than 30 minutes because it worked out better for me time-wise, and it seemed to make no difference. Also, I had some shredded carrots that I wanted to use up, so I added a handful of those along with the garlic and ginger. Ground pork or turkey could also be used instead of ground beef.

1 (14 ounce) package firm water-packed tofu, drained
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong), depending on how hot you want it
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon black bean garlic sauce (Sun Luck is the brand we used this time, but we've also used Lee Kum Kee)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce (regular or less-sodium)
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 ounces ground sirloin
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
Handful shredded carrots (optional)
2 cups hot cooked long-grain white rice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Place the tofu onto a plate lined with paper towels. Cover the tofu with a couple more paper towels, then put a heavy skillet right on top of the tofu and let stand for 30 minutes. Discard towels and chop tofu into 1-inch cubes.

In a small bowl, combine the Sriracha, mirin, black bean sauce, and sugar.

In another bowl (or a measuring cup) combine the broth, corn starch, soy sauce, and chili oil. Stir until smooth.

In a large nonstick skillet, add the canola oil and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ground beef and stir-fry for about 3 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and ginger (and shredded carrots, if using), stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the Sriracha mixture and cook for another minute, stirring occasionally. Add the broth mixture and bring to a boil. After about 1 minute, add the tofu and stir to combine. Allow the tofu to heat through for a minute or two.

Serve with rice and sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the top. We added some steamed broccoli alongside.

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