• Kate

Mapo Tofu and The Green Garden

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Join my guests, Calvin and Tiff as they share one of their own recipes with me. They walked me through a dish they had all of the time in their own kitchen growing up and as adults, Mapo Tofu. They knew the Taiwanese version backwards and forwards, so much so that this is the first time they attempted to measure the ingredients so I could go home with the recipe to add it to my collection. That being said, take every measurement as “approximately” and trust your own taste.

Mapo Tofu is a popular Chinese dish that is made with tofu and minced meat in a spicy sauce from the Sichuan province and many variations exist today (Wikipedia). To highlight Calvin and Tiff’s point in regards to our topic, Fusion Cuisine, they decided to prepare this classic dish in three different ways; a Szechuan variation, Taiwan variation, and a “Fusion” variation made with beef bourguignon stock (which they had made on a separate occasion and substituted tomato paste for miso). The third was created for the first time in our kitchen and we all had a hand and refining it, it was a lot of fun!

Below you will find the 3 different recipes, all variations followed the same process which is depicted in the fourth piece of paper. Below the images are a user tips from watching the process. Give one, or all, a try! They were delicious!

Listen to the EP here

User Tips:

  • Toast peppercorns in a skillet. They will start to smell spicy! Crush with a mortar and pestle.

  • The Broad Bean Paste with Chili has chunks of beans in it, we chopped the paste to smooth it out.

  • Crush and chop garlic, when cooking with garlic you want to use a warm pan with warm oil to draw out the flavor of the garlic.

  • When browning meat, you want to use a hot pan with room temperature oil.

  • Calvin and Tiff boil water for their tofu then let the tofu simmer for about 5 minutes, this prevents the tofu from falling apart once you stir fry it.

  • Add all the sauces and seasonings to the meat. Use your desired amount of chili powder and cayenne depending on your taste and the recipe you are using.

  • Combine tofu and stock to the meat, keep at a high simmer (approximately 10-15 mins) until the sauce reduces and becomes thick. In the Taiwanese version, the oyster sauce will help thicken the sauce, in the Szechuan version you will create a slurry with cornstarch and water. We did not use a slurry for our version, but you can if you like!

Quick tasting notes

  • All versions were extremely complex in flavor!

  • Taiwanese Mapo Tofu variation was sweeter due to the oyster sauce

  • The Szechuan Mapo Tofu variation had more heat from the peppercorns.

  • Our version had a more umami and heavy flavor from the miso and the homemade beef stock.

The Green Garden

With the topic if Fusion Cuisine on my mind I wanted to make a cocktail involving Sake. Being an ingredient I have never worked with I knew I needed to do a bit of research.

I found 3 great sources in my hunt and all will be included in the bottom. One, an article by Amber Thorton made mention of using an unpasteurized sake so the flavors would hold up to the others in a cocktail. Nama sake was recommended, so the hunt began!

Sugar Snap Pea Juice

Yields about 2 C

  • 8oz Sugar Snap Peas

  • ½ c water

  • 3 Tbsp Honey Water (honey dissolved in water)

  • ⅛ tsp salt

  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

  • 1 Tbsp Ground Ginger

Per Cocktail

  • 2.25 oz Sake

  • 1.5 oz Gin

  • 1.5 oz Sugar Snap Juice

Remove the stem end of the snap peas. Blend together with water, lemon juice, ginger, salt, and honey water.

Strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve about 3 times to separate the pulp from the juice.

We don't want too much water to affect the flavors of the drink so keep your ingredients cold until use. Since Namasake is unpasteurized it needs to be stored in a cold dark place and only lasts a short while after opening.

In a shaker with ice, combine juice, gin, and sake. Shake!

Serve in a fresh glass without ice.

Fun Sources on Sake:

Thorton, Amber. “How to Introduce Sake into your Cocktails”. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. Aug. 30, 2016. https://talesofthecocktail.com/techniques/how-introduce-sake-your-cocktails

Smoolker, Marc. “The 5 Different Types of Sake”. Sake Social, https://www.sakesocial.com/blogs/beau/11418825-types-of-sake

Steward, Amy. “Rice”. The Drunken Botanist, Pg 77.

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