my ma-po

Last night I continued our week of healthy dinners with Mark Bittman's Ma-Po Tofu. Bittman's premise is that a little meat goes a long way so he suggests more tofu and tomatoes than ground pork. (The traditional dish is fairly heavy with ground beef and also more complicated with chile paste and fermented black beans.) I doubled the recipe below and probably added a touch more ground pork that suggested. I also added a tablespoon of cream to bring out the creaminess of the tofu; and of course a squeeze of lemon. Served over Soba noodles, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Super simple and hearty, and more or less healthy.

Simmered Tofu With Ground Pork (Ma-Po Tofu)

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or other oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, green part only
  • 1/2 cup stock or water
  • 1 pound soft or silken tofu, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Minced cilantro for garnish, optional
  1. Put oil in a deep 10-inch skillet or wok, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to medium-high. A minute later, add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes, and cook just until they begin to sizzle, less than a minute. Add pork, and stir to break it up; cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses most of its pink color.
  2. Add scallions and stir; add stock. Cook for a minute or so, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon if necessary to loosen any stuck bits of meat, then add tofu. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the soy sauce; taste, and add salt and red pepper flakes as necessary. Garnish with cilantro if you like, and serve.