Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy, if Belated, Chinese New Year

There are many reasons to love Sag Harbor, but amazing Chinese food is not one of them. So when I want to San Francisco in August I made up for this lack by eating at Chinese restaurants daily. When I came home, I sought out the recipe for my favorite dish at my favorite restaurant, the Ma Po Tofu at Mission Chinese Food. The recipe, which calls for Chinese black vinegar and fermented black beans among other specialty items, has been sitting on my desktop, because another thing Sag Harbor is not known for is a great Asian grocery store. I was determined to dine on an approximation of this dish on January 23rd in Sag Harbor, so I set about devising a recipe with ingredients I could buy at the IGA. With its soft, creamy tofu and rich pork gravy it will satisfy me until I can return to Mission Street. Here is the recipe:

Ma Po Tofu
Serves 4

For spice (the Ma Po tofu at Mission Chinese Food is so hot it made me cry--in a good way), I used a little Sriracha from the IGA. A tablespoon was enough for me, but stir in more at the end if you'd like.

1/2 cup low sodium canned chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons Sriracha (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
One 14-ounce package soft tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
Cooked white rice

1. Whisk together broth soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, and Sriracha in a small bowl.
2. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add ground pork and cook, stirring to break up, until it has lost its pink color, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in ginger and garlic and continue to cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Stir in broth mixture, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Stir in tofu and heat through. Spoon over rice and sprinkle with scallions.

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