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Tofu with Spicy Meat Sauce

This simple, updated version of the classic Sichuan dish ma po tofu from cookbook author Joyce Jue, which appeared in F&W in March 2002, is the tastiest tofu recipe we've come across. It even makes converts of people who turn their nose up at tofu.

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  • Servings: 4

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  • 1/4 cup small tree ear mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese chili-bean sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 6 fresh water chestnuts, chopped
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed


  1. In a small bowl, cover the tree ears with water and let soak for 15 minutes; drain and coarsely chop.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce with the sherry, sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch. Stir in the pork. In a small bowl, mix the remaining cornstarch with the water.
  3. In a wok, heat the oil until smoking. Add the chili-bean sauce, garlic and ginger and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the water chestnuts and chopped tree ears and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add the pork and stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up any large clumps. Stir in the scallions, sugar and white pepper. Gently stir in the tofu, broth, peas and the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until the sauce thickens, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a platter and serve.


Ground pork isn't as widely available as ground beef, but it's easy to make your own at home. Dice inexpensive pork chops and pulse in the food processor until ground.

Contributed By Published March 2002

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