Ma po tofu

Jill Dupleix
Ma po tofu.
Ma po tofu. Photo: Marina Oliphant

What you learn: Meat can be an accompaniment and not the main attraction; Chinese chilli bean sauce is wonderful to keep in the fridge; and Sichuan peppercorns are both fiery and numbing, a totally different taste sensation.

Ingredients

500g fresh bean curd, drained

2 tsp cornflour

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice wine

350g coarsely minced pork

2 tbsp peanut oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 red chilli, roughly chopped

1 tbsp ginger, finely grated

3 green onions, finely chopped

2 tbsp chilli soy bean sauce (from Asian food stores)

½ tsp sugar

125ml chicken stock or water

1 tsp sesame oil

½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns, ground

6 sprigs coriander

Method

1. Cut bean curd into bite-sized cubes and blanch in a pan of lightly simmering salted water for 30 seconds. Drain and set aside.

2. Mix cornflour in one tablespoon of soy and one tablespoon rice wine. Add pork and mix well. Heat wok, then add oil, swirling to coat. When hot, add garlic, chilli and ginger, tossing well. Add pork and stir-fry for three minutes until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

3. Add half the green onions, chilli soy bean sauce, sugar, remaining soy sauce and rice wine, stirring well. Add stock or water and simmer, stirring, for five minutes.

4. Add drained beancurd, folding through gently to coat and simmer for two minutes. Stir in remaining green onions and spoon into a warmed serving bowl.

5. Drizzle with sesame oil and scatter with Sichuan pepper and coriander. Serve with steamed rice.

Tip Cookery writer Elizabeth Chong suggests roasting the peppercorns over low heat in a dry wok until fragrant, then roughly crushing before use.

This is one of Jill Dupleix's 10 recipes everyone should master.