The same shopping trip that picked up ingredients for my homemade Dan Dan Mein led me to make my other favorite Szechuan dish, Mapo tofu. This fragrant and spicy dish translates roughly as “pockmarked old lady tofu”, possibly due to its “unattractive” appearance.
Again I used a hardcore online recipe as my base.
And, of course, Mapo wouldn’t be real Mapo without Szechuan Peppercorns, about to be lightly mashed. These incredibly aromatic bits of vegetation provide the “mala” (numbing spiciness) that is so characteristic of this dish.
I fry them up here in oil.
Meanwhile chopping garlic and ginger.
Add in the garlic.
Add in the ginger.
Then I used ground lamb as my meat, since I can’t use pork.
Mixed in to brown.
Szechuan hot bean paste is a key salty ingredient to this dish. This is a mix of fermented broad beans, soy beans, salt, and various spices.
Cook for just a touch longer and serve.
This isn’t the loveliest dish, and mine was uncharacteristically tan instead of red — despite packing a pretty serious hot and numbing punch — but it tasted pretty dead on like a nice Szechuan restaurant version. The lamb was a good addition too, adding a “spicy” heft as opposed to the pork. Really delicious stuff which got the forehead sweating!