When you order mapo tofu at Sichuan restaurants, you’ll get a dish largely composed of ground meat or chicken basking in an oyster sauce-based broth. A mighty tasty and comforting dish but not friendly for non-meat eaters and those who are trying to avoid un-natural ingredients (read: the ingredients on a bottle of oyster sauce).
The other night, my husband requested an “Asian dish.” I could have gone a number of directions but my mind raced to something comforting and not super complex. I somehow landed on mapo tofu .
The biggest challenge is recreating the broth. The other ingredients – tofu (easy) + mushrooms (easy and takes the place of meat/chicken) – are a breeze. It’s that sauce… I basically thought about what the sauce means to me, and I came up with tangy, spicy, mostly savory with hints of sweet lingering in the background. Oh, and the oyster extract. Hm.
Then it hit me. Bonito flakes! By adding just a little bit of bonito flakes, I can essentially recreate that subtle “oyster-y” sensation. Success.
The result is a much lighter, healthier, silkier mapo tofu but still true to the original concept and über comforting.
Organic Soft Tofu (12 oz)
Japanese Mushrooms (Large Handful)
Ginger (1-inch knob)
Garlic Clove (1)
Sweet Green Peas (1/2 cup)
Soy Sauce (2 tbsp)
Sake (1/4 cup)
Organic Ketchup (2 tbsp)
Miso Paste (2 tbsp)
Bonito Flakes (2 tbsp)
Togarashi (1 tsp)
Drizzle the sesame oil into a wok.
Peel and grate the ginger. Add to the sesame oil. Turn the heat on a low simmer.
Chop up the scallions, thinly slice up the garlic and add to the oil as well.
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sake, ketchup, miso paste, bonito flakes, and togarashi until well combined.
Rinse the Japanese mushrooms and set aside.
Cube up the tofu and set aside.
Raise the heat on your wok to medium-high. Add half of the whisked sauce.
Add the mushrooms and toss with the wok ingredients.
Add the tofu to the wok and continue toss. Use a slotted spoon to gently break up the tofu.
Add the sweet green peas, pour in the rest of the sauce and continue stirring. Season with white pepper. Serve alone or with a side of brown rice.