You can adjust to your own preferences, though if you want it more powdery, it dissolves into the sauce, and you dont get as much of that kick in the tongue sensation. Normally, I would go for a finer consistency with the peppercorns, but a rolling pin and a plastic sandwich bag just didnt get me as far as the mortar and pestle we have at home. Now I know as well as the next foodie how difficult it can be to approximate restaurant favorites at home, so you may be thinking, what a load a panda poopthis is just another so called authentic dish. Not so my friendswe dont play around at The Woks of Life. How Long Can Eggs Sit Out Before They Go Bad. If we say authentic, you better betchyo pineapple buns that its gonna turn out authentic. Plus, the backstory of this recipe says it all. It was the summer after my freshman year of college, and I was spending it in Beijing with my parents and sister. It was a hot and smoggy day, which meant rainy day activities that didnt require venturing out into the noxious Beijing air. I was parked in my parents bedroom, flipping through the channels of countless historical dramas you can literally go through ten straight channels, and each time the screen changes, youll see identical looking actresses in traditional dress, fighting back tears in disturbingly clear HD, Chinese nature documentaries run little deer, ruuuun, and mindless extended infomercials for the best freakin Chinese dried dates youll ever taste, or your money back guaranteed or not. Anyways, I was knocked out of my stupor when my limited Chinese vocabulary was able to detect that the latest generic cooking program I had settled on was featuring a professional chef explaining how to make Ma Po Tofu the right way. For the next 2 minutes, my eyes were glued to the screen, brain straining to understand just what the heck he was saying. Right after it was over, I scrambled to find a pen and paper to write down what I had seen and heard. And heres the finished product Youll need cup oil, divided. Small handful of fresh or dried red chili peppers I used both, thinly sliced for fresh and roughly chopped for dried. Sichuan peppercorns, crushed half chunky, half powdery Update some of our readers have noted that the Sichuan peppercorns can be very strong in this dish thats how we like it, but if you want a milder flavor, cut back to 1 tablespoon or even less, depending on your personal preference We used a mixture of green and red Sichuan peppercorns, but definitely stick with just red if you like a milder flavor. Green Sichuan peppercorns have a stronger numbingfloral effect on the dish. Water or chicken broth. Corn Starch. 1 large scallion, finely chopped. First, we make the chili oil. If you have bottled or homemade chili oil, you can skip this step. Heat your wok or a small saucepan on low. Add cup of the oil and throw in the peppers. Stir occasionally until the oil is bright red. Make sure that the peppers dont brown Once the oil is red or reddish remove from heat and set aside. You can do this in advance and let it sit on the counter. The longer it sits, the redder itll get. While thats sitting, take some time to prep the rest of your ingredients Heat the remaining cup of oil in your wok over medium heat. Add your Sichuan pepper corns and stir occasionally. Let them fry very gently. You want to release the flavors without browning the peppercorns. Once the peppercorns have cooked for 2 3 minutes, add the ginger. Turn up the heat to medium high in order to lightly fry the ginger. Then add the garlic. Stir 2 3 times, then turn up the heat and add the ground pork. You can also substitute beef, chicken, or turkeywhatever ya got, so long as its chopped into little pieces. Ive made this with diced pork belly and, dang it was good. Break up the meat and fry it until its cooked through. Add the spicy bean sauce to the mixture and stir it in well. The red color spreads through the whole mixture, and now is about when you should be getting excited. Dont be disturbed if you start drooling a little too. Add 23 cups of water or chicken broth to the wok and stir. Let this simmer for a minute or so. While youre letting that cook, sidle over to your cutting board and prep your tofu you can do this beforehand if youre a responsible person, but I find that the cooking process is often me just scrambling around the kitchen trying to frantically coordinate everything. Im sure youre a much more responsible think ahead type. By the way, I have a huge amount of tofu here, because theres nothing better than coming back from class at 7 3. After youre done prepping your tofu, put a cup of water in a small bowl with your corn starch and mix it with a forkmake sure all the clumps are broken up, and everything is dissolved. Add the cornstarch mixture to your sauce and stir. Let it bubble away until the sauce starts to thicken. Then add your chili oil from beforepeppers and all A sign of good Szechuan food is the quantity of excess dried peppers in the dish. Stir the oil into the sauce, and then add the tofu. I actually think that Korean brands of silken tofu are a bit higher quality than the Chinese brands, if you can find them. Use your spatula to gently toss the tofu in the sauce. We call for 1. 5 cubes because during the mixing process, the tofu gets broken up and you want some cubes by the end of it But dont be too perturbed if a good amount of the tofu gets mushed up. It gives the sauce more body and will be a sheer delight when youre dolloping it over your rice. Let it cook for 3 5 minutes. Add the scallions and stir until theyre juuust wilted. You can also set aside a small handful to sprinkle over the top of the finished dish. Serve hot with a nice mounded bowl of white rice And youre done If you laughed at that, we should definitely be friends. When you make this for friends and family, I guarantee that theyll ooh and ahh over how much it looks and tastes just like what your favorite SzechuanSichuan restaurant makes. We sure did And youll be surprised at how simple it actually is. The key is to prep everything before you actually start cooking. Let us know what you think in the comments below MA PO TOFU The REAL Deal cup oil, divided. Small handful of fresh or dried red chili peppers I used both, thinly sliced for fresh and roughly chopped for dried. Sichuan peppercorns, crushed half chunky, half powdery Update some of our readers have noted that the Sichuan peppercorns can be very strong in this dish thats how we like it, but if you want a milder flavor, cut back to 1 tablespoon or even less, depending on your personal preference3 tablespoons ginger, finely minced. Water or chicken broth. Corn Starch. 1 large scallion, finely chopped. First, we make the chili oil. If you have bottled chili oil, you can skip this step. Heat your wok or a small saucepan on low. Add cup of the oil and throw in the peppers. Stir occasionally until the oil is bright red. Make sure that the peppers dont brown Once the oil is red or reddish remove from heat and set aside. You can do this in advance and let it sit on the counter.