A Quick Chinese Meal
One of the first Chinese dishes I learned to cook was Ma Po Tofu. I was introduced to this recipe by my sister Judy, newly married to a young scientist from Taiwan and living in Berkeley, California.
Through the years, I’ve stripped down the recipe so it doesn’t require a trip to Chinatown for any special ingredients, making this dish a good dinner choice when you’re time-pressed and don’t know what to cook. You should be able to bring this dish to the table in about 20 minutes.
Tofu has a long shelf life if you buy the kind in the sealed packaging from the refrigerated section of the supermarket. (The sell-by date may be as long as three months; check the date stamp.) So I usually have a package of tofu in the fridge for mealtime emergencies.
In addition to Ma Po Tofu, you can try Teriyaki Tofu, another quick and easy tofu dish.
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Ma Po Tofu
1 block extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 ounces ground pork
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
- Cut tofu into ½-inch cubes and set aside.
- In broad skillet or in a wok, heat oil over medium heat. Add pork, breaking up into pieces with a wooden spoon, and cook until browned, about 2 minutes.
- Add garlic and soy sauce; cook for a few seconds, stirring. Add chicken broth and tofu and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes, stirring gently, being careful not to break up the tofu.
- In small bowl mix cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water to dissolve. Add to simmering broth and stir gently, until sauce is thickened and glossy. Stir in sesame oil if using. Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with onion. Makes 3 to 4 servings.
Note: for more complex flavor, you can add a little hot bean paste, black bean chili sauce or salted black beans when you add the broth. Start with 1 or 2 teaspoons, taste and add more, if desired.
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