But the “self-taught cook from north-west China” behind the Red House Spice blog, Wei, recommends against using it – she prefers “medium-firm” pressed tofu. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay. In this vegan mapo tofu recipe, I omitted the pork and used a generous amount of fermented bean pastes to give the dish flavor. That said, meat does bring deliciously flavourful fat to the party, so it’s worth using it if you do eat the stuff – given the small amount used, this dish is a handy one for anyone looking to cut down their consumption this year. The sauce is the most important element of mapo tofu, the essential elements of which which Wei describes in five Chinese characters: – numbing (from the lip-tingling Sichuan peppercorns)– spicy (from chillies, both dried, and in the fermented chilli bean paste, which is an essential ingredient of this dish)– aromatic (in the form of fermented black beans)– physically hot (this is a dish best served straight away) and– tender (that lovely, soft tofu). A bit-part player; there’s a reason mapo tofu can be so successfully adapted to suit a vegan diet (may I point you in the direction of Meera Sodha’s mushroom version? As with all stir-fries, get everything prepped and ready to go before you even think about cooking. Fry the spring onion whites, garlic and ginger, then stir in the bean paste, fermented black beans and chill, before returning the meat to the wok and adding the tofu. Rinse and chop them, as the Sichuan Gourmet Association suggests, to distribute the flavour more evenly. This version of the dish, stripped to its bones, is made with meaty shiitake mushrooms, leeks and broth, all layered over with bright Sichuan peppercorns and a magical sauce (toban djan) made of fermented broad beans. Better to stick with spring onions, though you can use baby leeks, if you prefer; both are fair substitutes for the Chinese green garlic, which, Dunlop explains, is rarely seen over here. The texture and subtlety of silken tofu means it is great as a base for a dip or spread. ), because all you really need is something savoury and more solid than the beancurd. How to cook the perfect nasi goreng – recipe | Felicity Cloake, How to cook the perfect laksa – recipe | Felicity Cloake, apo tofu, more romantically, if less glamorously, known as “pock-marked old woman’s tofu”, is the beancurd equivalent of bacon: the surefire way to convert tofu sceptics to its quiet pleasures. Blanch the cubed tofu in salted boiling water, then set aside; and grind half the Sichuan peppercorns. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay. The function of the tofu here, to my mind at least, is to provide a soft, creamy foil to the strong flavours of the other ingredients, so the softer and creamier you make it, the better – I like soft, but medium is the firmest I’d go for here. Garlic and ginger are popular bases, again, like the Sichuan pepper, giving the dish a more rounded, complex flavour than simply salty heat. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Because of this last point, I don’t think there’s any need to add extra salt in the form of soy sauce, popular though that is in the recipes, or indeed Shaoxing wine. Add the tofu, stir to coat, then return the vegetables to the pan. The difference, as these names suggest, is largely one of texture; the more liquid has been pressed out of the beancurd, the firmer it will be, and thus the easier to fry. Put a wok on a medium high heat, then add the oil and, once it starts to smoke, the remaining whole peppercorns. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Take off the heat and serve with plain white rice. • Is mapo tofu the dish that turned you on to tofu, and if not, what’s your secret weapon to convert sceptics? To read more about mapo tofu check out Fuchsia Dunlop’s post on The Guardian and head to the recipe now by visiting Healthy Nibbles Mapo Tofu recipe blog. Shiitake-Pilze in kleine Stücke schneiden. This is not your typical mapo tofu recipe. Stir in the cornflour paste, to thicken the sauce, then tip into a bowl and top with the spring onion greens and ground pepper. Instead, concentrate on the chilli bean paste, the best of which, Tan and Dunlop agree, comes from Pixian, though you’ll probably have to squint closely at the labels to identify this – certainly the one I find is much richer and saltier than the milder version made in Hong Kong. There’s surprisingly little agreement on the main component of the dish. More than a century later, her creation is on menus from Tokyo to Tulsa, known and loved for its aromatic heat and intensely savoury flavours, perfectly balanced by the creamy blandness of the beancurd.