Friday, July 27, 2012
Fragrant eggplant mapo tofu (魚香茄子 meets 麻婆豆腐)
One of my all-time favourite dishes and easy as pie to make, this eggplant/tofu dish is spicy and satisfying over some steamed rice. (My apologies for the eggplants skin turning brown in the photos, I didn't want to use so much oil and my skillet temperature was not as hot as it should have been, mostly because I was impatient for the cast iron to heat up)
Light olive oil
2 cloves garlic (I used pickled garlic to add extra flavour)
3 medium eggplants
225g firm tofu, Korean style
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (this is one of my 'must-have-in-the-fridge-always-PLEASE' sauces)
2 tbsp ground bean sauce (can be found in most Chinese supermarkets; you can also use the fermented bean sauce which includes whole beans)
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chili flakes
salt to taste
1/2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water (optional)
In hot skillet, saute garlic and eggplants in oil until just beginning to brown. Add a little water, turn to medium heat and cover for about 3 - 5 mins.
Uncover and using your hands, break the tofu into the eggplant mix. Cook for 2 more mins. (In the original eggplant dish, ground pork is used but I prefer to mush up the tofu as a meat replacement. Also, I'm currently watching a Korean drama called "Gourmet"; the star chef mentions that breaking the tofu with your hands gives a sweeter taste compared to cutting it - whatever the case, mushing tofu with my hands feels pretty darn good!)
In separate bowl, mix vinegar, Sriracha, bean sauce, soy sauce, and chili flakes. Pour into eggplant and stir. Now pour in the cornstarch/water mix and cook for 2 mins or so. This is solely used to thicken the sauce, a common sauce thickener in most restaurant-style Chinese dishes. You can choose to omit this altogether, it doesn't take away the flavour of the dish.
Serve over hot Jasmine rice and enjoy!