Mapo Do Fu
Silken tofu flavored with beef and fermented chilis in a slick of chili oil dusted with Sichuan pepper.
Having all of your ingredients ready to go is essential for a good stir-fry. Here Chef Zhang has beef, his aromatics, and tofu ready to go. The sauces and other condiments are to his left.
Flavor the oil
The first step is to flavor the cooking oil with Sichuan peppercorns to help start building up layers of flavor early on.
After straining the peppercorns out, the beef gets cooked in the flavored oil.
Several sauces are added, including soy sauce, chili bean paste, Chinese rice wine, and a slurry of cornstarch and water.
The tofu is boiled separately for just a minute or two to heat it up before adding to the sauce.
After adding the tofu, everything is simmered together for just a minute while Chef Zhang carefully folds the tofu in to coat it without breaking the delicate curds.
It's addictively good. Spicy, aromatic, and soul-satisfying stuff.