project tofu (part 2)

Posted on December 12, 2012

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photo via gilt taste

photo via gilt taste

Fresh off the success with vegetarian lettuce wraps and with half a log of tofu still left, I turned to an article and recipe I’ve been eyeing on Gilt Taste for months: “How To Make a Better Mapo Tofu“, by Ruth Reichl, one of my favorite authors. Gilt Taste appears to be defunct as they haven’t updated their recipes page since September, but I check regularly just to make sure and keep coming back to the tofu article, trying to muster up the courage to try it.

Part of the problem was that this article teaches you how to make a BETTER mapo tofu, but I’ve never tried a bad version, or any version at all – so I had nothing to measure mine against. But how bad could it be when one of the key ingredients is SAUSAGE?

Anywhoodle, buoyed by the success of Project Tofu (part 1), I embarked on Part 2: Mapo Tofu. Not nearly as simple as the lettuce wraps and with several more steps, I was instantly thwarted by two things: I don’t own a wok, and I didn’t have any Sichuan peppercorns.

How much could that matter, I wondered? I unearthed a giant skillet and tried to recall everything I”ve learned about cooking with a wok from television (not much) and then I opted against walking across the park to the only place that MIGHT have Sichuan peppercorns and decided to skip them entirely.

The final result? Pretty frickin’ awesome, if I do say so myself. I understand where the peppercorns flavor would have played a role and enhanced the dish, but without them, it was still beyond edible. It was devour-able. Scarf-able. Phenomenal. (Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it was damn good.)

You’ll want me to make this for you in the future, friends.