EGGPLANT MAPO TOFU
One of my favorite things to do as a food blogger and recipe developer is to go to the grocery store or farmers’ market. I love walking around trying samples and seeing what’s in season. What better way to discover new ingredients and vegetables? I especially love visiting the Asian market to see what new ingredients I can get my hands on and test in the kitchen.
I set out to explore the Asian market one day in search of the perfect ingredients to play around with in the kitchen. Even I get a little overwhelmed sometimes at the Asian market since there are so many brands as far as pantry items are concerned. How do you know which ones taste the best? That’s when some good old experimenting and testing come into play. Or, if you are following a recipe, simply ask for some help! The people at my local Asian market are always quick to help and offer lots of suggestions as well.
Mapo Tofu is one of our favorite Chinese food dishes. It’s the dish that we always order when we go out and the spicier, the better. In fact, my husband doesn’t even want to eat it unless it has a certain degree of spiciness. Now, as with many Asian food sauces, you’ll find a lot of popular sauces jarred or in ready-made packets. Sometimes, I enjoy using these but I always add things to make it my own.
We usually eat our Mapo Tofu with some kind of beef, but it’s summer and eggplant is in season. I actually used a combination of both regular eggplant and Chinese eggplant after picking both up at the Asian market. Chinese eggplant has a thinner skin, fewer seeds, and is a little less bitter with a more delicate flavor than regular eggplant. But I couldn’t resist cooking with both.
I used my trusty KitchenAid® Copper Core 12″ Nonstick Skillet. This is my absolute favorite skillet and I use it all the time. The low, gently angled sides not only make stirring and flipping easier, but also provide a larger surface area for quickly cooking, sautéing, and searing meats and vegetables. From rim to rim, the multi-layered design ensures that every millimeter of cooking surface provides optimal heat distribution for great cooking results every time.
With any Asian food dish, there are varying degrees of spiciness and preference. Play around with this recipe and add more or less heat and spice, depending on your taste and what you want. I hope you give this recipe a try! If you like eggplant and Chinese Mapo Tofu, you simply must!
Eggplant Mapo TofuMakes 4-6 servings
Notes for the cook: Ingredients can be found at any Asian market. You can just buy one type of eggplant or you can use a mixture of both as indicated below.
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 to 3 fresh cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 to 3 green onions, finely diced (white and green parts)+ more for garnish
2 to 3 tablespoons spicy black bean paste (or hot bean sauce)
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground
1/3 cup spicy bean sauce + more if needed (as shown above)
14 ounce container of silken tofu, drained and cut into cubes
1/2 cup Chinese eggplant, cubed
1/2 cup eggplant, cubed
Serve with white or brown rice
Using a small mixing bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, cornstarch, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.
Using your KitchenAid® 7-Ply Stainless Steel with Copper Core 10″ Skillet over medium high heat, add the sesame oil, garlic, ginger and green onions and cook until fragrant, for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the hot bean paste, ground Sichuan pepper and spicy bean sauce. Taste and adjust ingredients according to your taste. Continue sautéing for a few more minutes, or until heated through.
Add the tofu and the eggplant and stir together gently so that the tofu and eggplant gets nicely coated with the sauce. Add more spicy bean sauce if needed.
Whisk together the chicken stock mixture again and then pour it over the tofu and eggplant. Toss gently to coat, and let cook until the sauce thickens, for about 5 to 6 minutes. You can turn up the heat a bit if needed.
Serve with white or brown rice and garnish with diced green onions.