tag:nompen.com,2013:/posts nompen 2020-10-31T00:01:45Z William Do tag:nompen.com,2013:Post/1542770 2020-05-11T04:04:45Z 2020-10-31T00:01:45Z LANZHOU HAND PULLED NOODLES (兰州拉面)



If you spent some time in New York City during the start of the Wall Street financial bubble, you knew that Chinese food culture was about to have its moment—and not necessarily towards a push for posh, haute cuisine funded by bankers’ bonuses and excess. For decades, Cantonese and Chinese-American food have been mainstays of metropolitan cities like NYC and San Francisco. What was different was the slow proofing of western Chinese gastronomy in Flushing and Manhattan's Chinatown, brought here by a diaspora in the 80’s and 90’s nostalgic for silk road flavors.

Among the gifts were Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles (兰州拉面 or Lanzhou lamian), popularized by Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles on Doyers Street, yet localized by Super Taste on Elridge. Hand-pulled noodles are a sensory experience: the 10 minute journey from the subway, the murmured prayers for whether the restaurant is opened and then the discomfort of sharing your table with a slurping stranger, only to watch the matriarch of the restaurant shout your order from across the room. She looks your way, then raises her fingers, “two minutes.”

As you wait, your mind might slip into one of those fugue states where the walls melt away, the thwap! of the whipped noodle dough grows louder, and the steam from the boiling water blurs to a fog, until what’s left in front of you is a bowl of supple strands bathed in pork broth (we thank the Fujianese immigrants for this non-halal derivative), ceremoniously garnished with a Fergus Henderson ode to oxtail disks, beef meatballs, white tripe, and fatty brisket.

It’s hard to imagine the importance of Lanzhou lamian in the Asian American narrative as something other than culinary theatrics, powered by Youtube videos and mystique with some “ancient Chinese secret”. It’s even harder to imagine a Lanzhou Hui Muslim without a bowl of noodles in the morning at 6:30 a.m., clockwork, normal, even necessary. With 50,000 noodle shops strong in Lanzhou, lamian is to Lanzhou as oil is to modern economies. It is, put simply, a way of life.

To understand noodle-making in Lanzhou, you must visit one of its better restaurants, Mazilu (马子禄). From a distance, their china reminds you of hastily-made Ming porcelain. Squint, and you might notice the contours of an Islamic Alhambra. Cream colored noodles are served in a yak broth that has the clarity of a Yunnanese qiguo stock. A ladle each of chili crisp oil and cubed beef belly splits the difference between a night market snack from Chengdu and a dish you enjoyed the last time you backpacked through Kashgar. But take a bite, and you’ll see how lamian has given not only Lanzhou but China a sense of place—a place where a guest, whether a rice farmer or steel magnate, won’t have to pay more than 10 yuan ($1.40 USD) for a bowl of noodles. It’s unapologetically democratic, and its people keep it that way.

The countdown starts when the noodle master hands you your order. You’re careful to balance the soup as you search for an empty table, a stool, a place to squat, anything. And when you inhale your bowl of dakuan (large width) hand-pulled noodles and its tenets—clear broth, white radishes, red fragrant oil, green herbs, beef slices—you realize that there might be beauty in lamian staying secret, normal and mythic in its entirety.

NOTES BEFORE WE START

Due to immediate demand, this recipe is only for the hand-pulled noodle dough. A future article may cover the broth and chili oil. The key to making Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles properly is technique and the right alkaline, in this case, penghui. Be careful when working with any chemical compounds with a high pH, as they can cause burns when not handled properly. This is important when working with food grade penghui, lye, jianshui/kansui and even baking soda. Do not inhale or get them in your eyes.

I prefer to measure everything in grams for accuracy since volumetric measurements can be volatile in the home kitchen. That said, feel free to adjust accordingly to your palate and availability of ingredients. For peace of mind, I suggest gathering and measuring all ingredients first, then storing them in small bowls. If you have all the ingredients ready to go, you’ll have an easier time as you execute the recipe.


YOU’LL NEED | SERVES 2 - 3

  • 500g AP or bread flour
    Bread flour allows for chewier noodles but with greater tension when kneading

  • 250g water

  • 5g kosher salt

  • 5g penghui, mixed with 15g water
    Can substitute with jianshui/kansui (potassium carbonate/sodium bicarbonate solution) at 5g kanshui mixed with 5g water. You may need more/less depending on the potency of your kansui batch.

  • Oil

  • Extra flour for dusting

PREPARE THE DOUGH (PHASE 1)

  • 500g AP or bread flour
    Bread flour allows for chewier noodles but with greater tension when kneading

  • 5g kosher salt

  • 250g water

Combine flour and salt together and mix well. Place flour onto your work counter and form a mound. Starting from the center of the mound, use your hand to form a wide crater in a clockwise direction, pushing the flour outward.

Slowly pour the water into the center of the mound. Where the water meets the flour, use your fingers to slowly scrape the flour toward the pool of water. This allows the water to slowly and properly hydrate the flour in small amounts. This process is similar to kneading pasta with eggs.

Knead dough until nearly smooth. Wrap and let dough rest for at least 45 minutes.

APPLY THE ALKALINE (PHASE 2)

  • 5g penghui, mixed with 15g water
    Can substitute with jianshui/kansui (potassium carbonate/sodium bicarbonate solution) at 5g kanshui mixed with 5g water. You may need more/less depending on the potency of your kansui batch.

  • Rested dough from PHASE 1

Fill a medium pot of water and place over the stove with medium/high heat. Salt water until seasoned. This water will be used to cook your noodles.

By now the rested dough should be soft and smooth. Using your knuckles, gradually stretch and tear the dough away from you. Apply about half of the penghui solution.

DISCLAIMER: Again, when working with any alkaline solution be careful not to inhale it or get it in your eyes. Although food grade, penghui/lye water/kansui can caustic burns when not handled properly.

Fold the stretched dough over onto itself and continue the knuckle stretching method until the dough begins to droop. This may take about 5 - 10 minutes, depending on your speed. By now the dough should feel plastic and relaxed and no longer spring back into place (elastic).


STRETCH THE DOUGH (PHASE 3)

Starting from the left side of the dough, you’re going to use your left palm to stretch a segment of the dough away from you, then roll back in place. You’re going to apply the same method using your right palm with the adjacent segment of the unrolled dough. Continue this until the entire log of dough has been rolled out two to three times, alternating between your left and right palms. 

Next, we’re going to stretch the dough for evenness. On both ends of the dough, pull the dough about 2 feet in length, fold over and reconnect both ends. Continue this for about 7 to 8 times until you can see smooth strands appear along the dough. This is a good sign and represents congruence in density and texture for the dough.


PORTION THE DOUGH (PHASE 4)

Spread a thin sheen of oil over your work counter and apply a few drops to your hand. With your oiled hands, gently roll the stretched dough into a thick log. Be sure the thickness is uniform and the skin smooth. Clip off both ends of the dough with either your hands or with your bench scraper. The ends won’t be as even as the rest of the dough’s body, risking mismatching noodle strands when pulling noodles in the final step. Portion the log into 2 parcels. Cover with plastic and rest for 5 minutes.


PULL THE NOODLES (PHASE 5)


Dust your work counter with flour. Starting with the first parcel, roll it outward away from you then back, ensuring a light coating of flour picks up along the way. Meanwhile, gradually apply pressure so that the parcel is even in thickness. Be careful not to roll out too thinly.

With both hands, hold the parcel of dough on each end. 

Pull ends away from each other (about 2 feet) and loop back toward each other, forming a triangular space.

Pinch the dough ends between your left index finger and left ring finger.

Use your right index finger to drag the strands from the center of the triangular space.

Continue pulling noodles with this technique 4 more times. Pinch off the doughy end and cook in boiling water for 20 seconds. 

Strain and enjoy. 🙏








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William Do
tag:nompen.com,2013:Post/1537571 2020-04-29T21:07:54Z 2020-06-04T00:38:09Z JIUCAI TWICE COOKED PORK (韭菜回锅肉)


Twice-cooked pork helped me get married.

Picture yourself flipping slivers of crisp pork in the wok with chopsticks. You’re at your girlfriend’s parents’ house and have planned an ambitious spread of Chinese dishes. Think Red Braised Pork (红烧肉), Velveted Eggs with Gulf Shrimp (虾仁炒蛋), Poached White Cut Chicken (白切鸡), Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) and, most importantly, Twice Cooked Pork (回锅肉), your future mother-in-law’s favorite.

Your goal?

To impress them just enough, so that once your girlfriend passes out on the couch from sipping sweetened laozao, you pray that they’ll shower you with their marriage blessings carte blanche, when asked.

Twice cooked pork counts itself among the perfect dishes of the Chinese textural lexicon. Some say the seriousness of Sichuan cuisine rests in its mapo tofu, but I’d argue the progression of Sichuan cuisine led us to twice cooked pork. Gritty and dry twice cooked pork is OK to enjoy in your standard Sichuanese American take-out pail, and the checkered chunks of bell peppers in lieu of alliums may be what you’ve been used to seeing since Sichuan cuisine surfaced in America in 2005 (the year the USDA lifted its ban on the prized Sichuan peppercorn).

But in the kitchen of Tongle Restaurant (同乐餐厅) in Chengdu, Sichuan, where its popularity among locals may have much to do with its stewed blood cubes in fragrant chili oil or its fried pork intestines smothered in red lantern peppers, I’m betting that it’s the twice cooked pork that keeps the owner up at night.

Tongle Restaurant’s twice cooked pork is celebratory, its belly a millefeuille of three textural contrasts: a lean, satiny base; white, squishy subcutaneous fat; and a curled, chewy skin, nostalgic of al dente-braised tendon in pho. A bite into these layers reminds you of bittersweet caramel, a nifty trick from the chef of steeping ginseng and angelica root during the belly’s poach. The garlic sprouts smell of intense char, but their crunch has the mouthfeel of steamed chives. Couple that with the funk of doubanjiang and cut from black vinegar, and you’ve got a peasant dish born out of a “fly restaurant” (苍蝇馆子), yet with the rigor of a Michelin star.

A simple Google search for either “best twice cooked pork recipe”, “twice cooked pork traditional” or “twice cooked pork recipe Sichuan authentic” will probably yield a billion results. My hope is you won’t have to do that again.


NOTES BEFORE WE START

Due to availability, I opted for garlic chives (韭菜). Its flavor is as assertive as traditionally-used garlic sprouts, but without the harshness often found in garlic greens.

I prefer to measure everything in grams for accuracy since volumetric measurements can be volatile in the home kitchen. That said, feel free to adjust accordingly to your palate and availability of ingredients.

For peace of mind, I suggest gathering and measuring all ingredients first, then storing them in small bowls. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re performing knife work while simultaneously cooking. If you have all the ingredients ready to go, you’ll have an easier time as you execute the recipe.

YOU’LL NEED | Serves 4

  • 500g pork belly, preferably skin on, rubbed liberally with 2% salt in weight overnight

  • Salt, preferably kosher

  • 1900g or approx 2 qts of water

  • 75g Shaoxing wine

  • 30g ginger, peeled and sliced into thick disks

  • 10g dried ginseng, soaked in 200g water overnight
    Optional

  • 5g angelica root
    Optional

  • 5g green sichuan peppercorns (preferably)
    Can substitute with red sichuan peppercorns

  • 30g or approx 2 tbsp lard (pork fat)
    Can substitute with either grapeseed or canola oil

  • 225g garlic chives, cut at a bias, 2 inches in length
    Can substitute with either garlic sprouts, baby leeks, or full sized leeks

  • 30g or approx 2 hefty tbsp pixian doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)
    The preferred brand in Sichuan is Juancheng (鹃城) Pixian Doubanjiang, available at most Chinese supermarkets

  • 15g whole erjintao or tianjin chilis (soaked overnight, then cut into 2 cm lengths)

  • 20g ginger, peeled and finely minced

  • 10g or approximately 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

  • 15g or approx 1 tbsp black fermented soybeans (soaked overnight)
    Can substitute with taucheo beans (does not have to be soaked)

  • 15g or approx 1 tbsp tianmianjiang (sweet wheat sauce)
    The preferred brand in Sichuan is Juancheng (鹃城) Pixian Tianmianjiang; can substitute with hoisin sauce

  • 5g or 1 tsp light soy sauce

  • 3g or approx 0.50 tsp dark soy sauce

  • 2g or approx 0.40 tsp monosodium glutamate or powdered chicken bouillon

  • 2g or approx 0.40 tsp granulated sugar

  • 3g or 0.5 tsp black sorghum vinegar
    Can substitute with Zhenjiang black vinegar

  • 3g or approx 0.40 tsp green sichuan peppercorns, toasted and finely crushed, ideally powdered
    Can substitute with red Sichuan peppercorns

  • 15g or approx 1 tbsp Lanzhou chili crisp oil


PREPARE THE PORK BELLY

  • 500g pork belly, preferably skin on, rubbed liberally with 2% salt in weight overnight
  • Salt, preferably kosher

  • 1900g or approx 2 qts of water

  • 75g Shaoxing wine

  • 30g ginger, peeled and sliced into thick disks

  • 10g dried ginseng, soaked in 200g water overnight
    Optional

  • 5g angelica root
    Optional

  • 5g green sichuan peppercorns (preferably)
    Can substitute with red sichuan peppercorns

    Let pork belly rest with salt for either at least 2 hours or ideally overnight. Salting the protein in advance helps break down some of its muscle structure and, in this case, helps develop xianwei (umami). You’re going to fabricate the pork belly in two phases:

    1) Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil, then add in the pork belly. Maintain a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Strain and discard the water.

    2) In the same pot with the belly, add in the 1900g water, Shaoxing wine, ginger, ginseng and its liquid, angelica root and green sichuan peppercorns. Season with salt as though you’re preparing a broth. Bring everything to a gentle simmer, turn off the heat and poach, covered, for 60 minutes.

    This technique of poaching is inspired by how Cantonese/Singaporean chefs would prepare Hainanese chicken rice and will yield a supple pork belly cooked pink to medium; don’t be alarmed with the color. You’ll be cooking the pork a second time, so gently poaching your pork ensures you won’t overcook it in the wok later.

    Remove the pork belly and chill completely. The remaining herbal liquid can be served as soup.

    Once cooled, slice the pork belly into 2 mm segments (the thickness of 3 credit cards), then set aside.

PREPARE EVERYTHING ELSE

  • 30g or approx 2 tbsp lard (pork fat)
    Can substitute with either grapeseed or canola oil

  • 225g garlic chives, cut at a bias, 2 inches in length
    Can substitute with either garlic sprouts, baby leeks, or full sized leeks

  • 30g or approx 2 hefty tbsp pixian doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)
    The preferred brand in Sichuan is Juancheng (鹃城) Pixian Doubanjiang, available at most Chinese supermarkets

  • 15g whole erjintao or tianjin chilis (soaked overnight, then cut into 2 cm lengths)

  • 20g ginger, peeled and finely minced

  • 10g or approximately 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

  • 15g or approx 1 tbsp black fermented soybeans (soaked overnight)
    Can substitute with taucheo beans (does not have to be soaked)

  • 15g or approx 1 tbsp tianmianjiang (sweet wheat sauce)
    The preferred brand in Sichuan is Juancheng (鹃城) Pixian Tianmianjiang; can substitute with hoisin sauce

  • 5g or 1 tsp light soy sauce

  • 3g or approx 0.50 tsp dark soy sauce

  • 2g or approx 0.40 tsp monosodium glutamate or powdered chicken bouillon

  • 2g or approx 0.40 tsp granulated sugar

  • 3g or 0.5 tsp black sorghum vinegar
    Can substitute with Zhenjiang black vinegar

  • 3g or approx 0.40 tsp green sichuan peppercorns, toasted and finely crushed, ideally powdered
    Can substitute with red Sichuan peppercorns

  • 15g or approx 1 tbsp Lanzhou chili crisp oil

SEASON THE WOK

If you’re using either a carbon steel or cast-iron wok, season your wok before cooking. That way your ingredients will less likely stick and cook with wok hei (鑊氣; “breadth of the wok”), the lovely charred flavor found in Chinese cuisine.

First, add about 1 tbsp of neutral cooking oil to your wok and turn on your heat to high. Use a paper towel to wipe the entire interior of the wok until a glossy sheen forms. Be careful not to burn yourself, as the oil may be hot at this point. Gradually rotate your wok over the flame until the sheen begins to smoke. Continue heating the wok until the smoke disappears, roughly 5 minutes. You’re creating a thin coat of carbon on the wok’s inner cavity. 

LET’S ROLL

Heat your seasoned wok over high heat. 

Add the lard and warm the fat until it begins to smoke slightly. Add the sliced pork belly and saute until the skin begins to curl. Add in the pixian doubanjiang to the wok and maintain the high heat. Saute for about 2 - 3 minutes until the paste aromatizes. 

Add in the bowls of minced garlic, minced ginger, soaked chilis, and soaked fermented black beans. Saute for another 3 minutes. Once the ginger begins to perfume:

Add in the tianmianjiang, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, msg, and sugar. Stir fry everything until the wet ingredients are fully incorporated. Add in the garlic sprouts and toss until the greens turn from bright green to a darker hue, slightly wilted, about 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook the sprouts. You still want a mild crunch of the greens without the pungency of raw alliums.

To prepare for the final cooking process, warm up the dishware you’d like to serve your twice cooked pork in in either a microwave or preheated oven at 250° fahrenheit.

Turn off the wok's heat. Add in the powdered green sichuan peppercorns and Lanzhou chili crisp oil. Deglaze with the black sorghum vinegar. Toss one last time and pour the twice cooked pork into your heated bowl. Skip any thought of garnishes. Enjoy with steamed rice. 🙏



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William Do
tag:nompen.com,2013:Post/1530827 2020-04-13T20:08:03Z 2020-05-17T23:09:01Z CHENGDU MAPO TOFU (成都麻婆豆腐)

I came across the best version of mapo tofu in Chengdu, Sichuan with my wife at Hen Niu De (很牛的馆子), a restaurant that’s plopped right across from Southwest Jiaotong University. It’s among the corridor of Sichuanese eateries fiercely competing for the local student body. Turns out, with a name meaning both Kickass Restaurant (colloquially) and Especially Beefy Restaurant (literally), the place pretty much screams you’re about to experience something special.

True to its title, Hen Niu De focuses only on dishes that celebrate beef. Its mapo tofu (13 RMB/$1.85 USD), tucked away on the 11th page of the menu, deserves to be a staple in any meal there. The tofu is firm yet slippery, curds wearing notes of aged broad beans and green sichuan peppercorns. Unlike its famous sibling, the red sichuan peppercorn, green peppercorns are intensely floral. They’re characterized by jasmine, white pepper, and unripe citrus, an elegant numb without the sharpness.

Shovel a scoop of rice and Hen Niu De mapo tofu into your mouth and, well, 🤯.

Much has to do with how the restaurant layers xianwei (umami) for the dish. They rehydrate dried erjintao chilis before blending them into a paste. The result is a savoriness absent from simply using fresh chilis. This technique reminds me of how Cantonese chefs dehydrate scallops for more xianwei before reconstituting them in water for cooking.

But there’s more. The fatty beef is minced just enough so you’ll get pops of both marbling and meat. Tallow, rather than cooking oil, is preferred in the kitchen and imbues a gamier note. Then, couple that with some pinches of msg to blur the dish’s sharp edges. With each bite, you’re hard pressed to forget you’re in some sort of bovine temple.

This, my friends, is my adaptation of how lucky Hen Niu De Restaurant made me feel at that moment. 


NOTES BEFORE WE START

I prefer to measure everything in grams for accuracy since volumetric measurements can be volatile in the home kitchen. That said, feel free to adjust accordingly to your palate and availability of ingredients.

For peace of mind, I suggest gathering and measuring all ingredients first, then storing them in small bowls. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re performing knife work while simultaneously cooking. If you have all the ingredients ready to go, you’ll have an easier time as you execute the recipe.

YOU’LL NEED | Serves 4

  • 225g or 0.5 lb of well marbled ribeye or short rib, finely minced (not ground), with 1% salt in weight added
    Can substitute with mushrooms for a vegetarian alternative 

  • 450g or 1 lb soft tofu (not silken, not firm, soft), cut into 2.5 cm cubes

  • 10g dried erjintao chilis
    Can substitute with dried hunan chilis

  • 5g green sichuan peppercorns (preferably)
    Can substitute with red sichuan peppercorns

  • 15g ginger, peeled and minced (about 2” knob peeled)
  • 20g whole erjintao or tianjin chilis (soaked overnight, then minced finely into a paste)
    Can substitute with sambal olek chili paste

  • 15g or approx 1 tbsp dried fermented black beans, soaked overnight in water, strained
    Can substitute with taucheo bean (does not have to be soaked)

  • 30g or approx 2 hefty tbsp pixian doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)
    The preferred brand in Sichuan is Juancheng (鹃城) Pixian Doubanjiang, available at most Chinese supermarkets

  • 340g or approx 1.5 cups fresh beef stock
    Can substitute with water

  • 30g or approx 2 tbsp rendered beef tallow (fat)
    Can substitute with neutral cooking oil, preferably grapeseed or canola oil

  • 1 green onion, sliced thinly into rings

  • 6g or 1 tsp of monosodium glutamate (MSG) or powdered chicken bouillon

  • 6g or 1 tsp dark soy sauce 

  • 3g or 0.5 tsp granulated sugar

  • 30g or approx 2 tbsp Lanzhou chili crisp oil

  • 4 tbsp of slurry (3 tsp of potato starch mixed with 3 tbsp of water).
    Can substitute with either tapioca starch or cornstarch


PREPARE THE RIBEYE

  • 225g or 0.5 lb of well marbled ribeye or short rib, finely minced (not ground), with 1% salt in weight added.

    Let beef rest with salt for either at least 2 hours or ideally overnight. Salting the protein in advance helps break down some of its muscle structure and encourages a juicier mouthfeel when cooked, like a sausage.


PREPARE THE TOFU

  • 450g or 1 lb soft tofu (not silken, not firm, soft), cut into 2.5 cm cubes

    Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Season generously with salt. Add in tofu and stir gently, allowing the water to come back up to a simmer. Continue simmering for 2 - 3 minutes.

    By blanching the tofu, we’re removing some of the harsh, beany aroma while hydrating the tofu. Once the tofu takes on a silky sheen and supple texture, that’s where it wants to be. Strain, and set aside. 


PREPARE THE CHILIS

  • 10g dried erjintao chilis
    Can substitute with dried hunan chilis

  • 5g green sichuan peppercorns (preferably)
    Can substitute with red sichuan peppercorns

    Set up a plate with a paper towel on top. This will help blotch any excess oil for the following method.

    In a saute pan, over low/medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, followed by the chili flakes and green Sichuan peppercorns. Gently shallow fry the ingredients for about 20 seconds, until the chilis reach a crimson hue. Be careful not to burn them. Should the chilis turn darker than mahogany, you risk your chilis tasting bitter. Immediately strain onto the plate with the paper towel.

    Once cooled, use a coffee grinder to pulverize the chili-peppercorn mix into a very fine powder. Alternatively, you could finely chop the chili-peppercorn mix with a knife. Bottom line: the finer the better. For those who are not used to eating Sichuan peppercorns, biting into a gravel-sized peppercorn may come as an overly numbing surprise. Set the mix aside. 

PREPARE EVERYTHING ELSE

  • 15g ginger, minced and peeled (about 2” knob peeled)
  • 20g whole erjintao or tianjin chilis (soaked overnight, then minced finely into a paste)
    Can substitute with sambal olek chili paste

  • 15g or approx 1 tbsp dried fermented black beans, soaked overnight in water, strained
    Can substitute for taucheo bean (does not have to be soaked)

  • 30g or approx 2 hefty tbsp pixian doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)
    The preferred brand in Sichuan is Juancheng (鹃城) Pixian Doubanjiang, available at most Chinese supermarkets

  • 340g or approx 1.5 cups fresh beef stock
    Can substitute with water

  • 30g or approx 2 tbsp rendered beef tallow (fat)
    Can substitute with neutral cooking oil, preferably grapeseed or canola oil

  • 1 green onion, sliced thinly into rings

  • 6g or 1 tsp of monosodium glutamate (MSG) or powdered chicken bouillon

  • 6g or 1 tsp dark soy sauce 

  • 3g or 0.5 tsp granulated sugar

  • 30g or approx 2 tbsp Lanzhou chili crisp oil

  • 4 tbsp of slurry (3 tsp of potato starch mixed with 3 tbsp of water).
    Can substitute with either tapioca starch or cornstarch

LET’S ROLL

Heat a medium-size wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat.

Add the beef tallow and warm the fat until it begins to smoke slightly. Add the salted minced beef and saute until medium rare. Set aside. Leave behind any residual beef fat in the wok. If none, add 1 to 2 tbsp more beef tallow.

Add in the pixian doubanjiang to the wok and reduce the heat to medium. Saute for about 2 - 3 minutes until the paste aromatizes. Add in the bowl of minced ginger, minced soaked chilis, and soaked fermented black beans. Saute for another 2 - 3 minutes. Once the ginger begins to perfume, add in 1.5 cups of beef stock and wait for everything to boil.

Add in the blanched soft tofu, 5g of the pulverized chili-peppercorn blend, dark soy sauce, msg, and sugar. Slowly stir everything while the liquid in the wok comes up to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes.

Add in the previously cooked minced beef until warmed through. Stir, taste, and season with salt accordingly.

To prepare for the final cooking process, warm up the dishware you’d like to serve your mapo tofu in in either a microwave or preheated oven at 250° fahrenheit.

You’re going to fortify the viscosity of the mapo tofu with the potato starch slurry in 3 stages. According to Sichuanese cuisine, multiple layers of starch gelatinization promote a silkier mouthfeel. Be sure the slurry is mixed well right before adding, since starch tends to separate in water over time. Once the mapo tofu is at a boil:

Add in 2 tbsp of the slurry into the mapo tofu. Stir to evenly distribute the slurry. Cook for 20 seconds then add another 1 tbsp of the slurry, continuously stirring for 20 seconds. Add 1 more tbsp of the slurry in the 3rd stage. By now the sauce should seize up to the consistency of loose curry. Drizzle in the Lanzhou chili crisp oil and transfer the mapo tofu to the warmed plate.

Dust another 1 tbsp of the chili-peppercorn mix on top. Garnish with the sliced green onions. Enjoy with steamed rice. 🙏


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William Do