How is it already Tuesday? I can remember growing up when my parents told me to enjoy my youth because time only flies by quicker as you get older. Well, they were right. My trip to Door County has come and gone (post coming tomorrow on the Door County Beer Fest) and I am moving into my apartment within the week. It's amazing to look back at what these six months in Logan Square have brought to me, and I am excited to see what things will come in Lincoln Park.
I received my July 2014 copy of Food & Wine magazine yesterday and flipped through the pages, glancing at the pictures, dreaming of writing for the magazine, and browsing for recipe options. My eyes immediately went to a recipe for Mapo Tofu. First instincts? Way too difficult. Too foreign for a quick weeknight recipe. But as I read over the recipe I realized it was quite the opposite. While there are a decent number of ingredients, the recipe only takes 15 minutes to make. So, when you are scrambling to get home in time to get dinner on the table, 15 minutes seems like a reasonable amount of time to make a delicious meal. Kuniko Yagi, the chef at Hinoki & the Bird in Los Angeles, takes a Chinese classic and puts her own spin on it with this recipe.
Most quick and easy weeknight recipes that I have come across are pastas, casseroles, etc, etc, etc. Easy, but highly over-rated and quite boring. Why not spice up your Tuesday night meal a little? Literally. I already had some of the ingredients at home and was able to find most of the rest at my local grocery store. The only hiccup came when looking for the chili-bean paste. To be honest, I have no idea what chili-bean paste is. So instead, I picked up something I knew I liked - sambal oelek, a variation of chili paste.
If this is something that you are making for that special someone, or perhaps as more than just a quick weeknight meal, you may want to choose a wine to pair with the meal. Wine pairing is always something that throws me. I am a red wino. White? Eh, not so much. However, taking the flavors of the food is a very important favor when pairing the meal with a wine. For most Chinese meals, a dry Riesling works perfectly. However, for this mapo tofu, you want a wine with spice and excitement to match the dish. Try a red wine from the Douro region in Portugal.
Tomorrow, keep an eye out for coverage of the 2014 Door County Beer Festival!
Prep Time: 15 mins Serves: 4
Ingredients: 1 teaspoon canola oil 1/2 pound ground beef chuck (85 percent lean) 1/2 pound ground pork Kosher salt 2 tablespoons chile-bean sauce, preferably toban djan (I couldn't find this so I used sambal oelek, which I had in my fridge) 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce or tenmenjan (soybean paste) 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 14-ounce package soft tofu, diced finely 1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch 1/2 cup water 3 scallions white rice, for serving (I didn't feel like waiting for the rice to cook, so I threw in the 3-minute microwavable brown rice from Trader Joe's)
- Heat a large skillet until hot. Add the oil, followed by the beef and pork. Season with salt and cook over high heat, stirring and breaking up the meat, until crumbly and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Once you no longer see any pink meat, you are ready to move to the next step.
- Stir in the sambal oelek, hoisin, and soy sauce and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
- Gently fold in the tofu. (Don’t worry if the tofu crumbles slightly.)
- In small bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the water. Add to the skillet and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 minutes. Once all ingredients are mixed, the dish will turn light red/orange in color.
- Stir in the scallions and serve atop rice.