a few weeks ago i had a severe hankering for tofu. just so you know, i hanker a lot. not just for food but for random stuff. and i usually hanker for long periods of time, gorging on whatever it is that i'm hankering until i no longer have that hanker. like that time in college when jewel was big and her song Foolish Games was out? i was talking to a boy who was on the track team and he loved the song too, so we would listen to it together, over and over again. how completely maudlin and self-indulgent, yes? it brings forth a smile and grimace when i hear this song now. that's how i feel about tofu. i know rationally speaking, it's good for you but it was pretty much shoved down my throat growing up. prepared properly, it's quite good. i'm sure my grandparents and parents made a variation of ma-po tofu, throwing in their spin on the dish. i can't recall it and i'm pretty sure if i could, i wouldn't have such conflicting feelings for tofu sometimes. any which way, i threw it out there on twitter for some tofu inspiration and wandering chopsticks offered up her ma-po tofu recipe. the recipes i saw online really much had tofu simmering in a spicy sauce, topped with meat and veggies. simple enough. i didn't follow a recipe, i used what i had available. i was satisfied. the hankering abated.
Ma Po Tofu
it's not even a proper recipe because i didn't measure, nor was it spicy and szechuan-y
ground pork, probably about 1/2 pound
wood ear fungus, softened in warm water and julienned
black bean sauce, maybe 1 tbl
garlic chili paste, maybe 1 tsp
1 leek, cleaned and chopped (diced onions is fine, i just happened to have a lone leek in the fridge)
1 container of firm tofu
again, cooking this up is pretty much at your discretion. in a hot pan, brown the ground pork until cooked thru. add leeks and toss around with meat until reached desired softness. throw in the wood ear fungus, as well as the black bean sauce and garlic chili paste. adjust according to taste. i may have added a bit of fish sauce for added taste but it's really up to you. meanwhile, with the tofu, press down onto paper towels to get rid of the excess water. cut into cubes. gently add tofu to the meat mix and incorporate until warmed thru. garnish with spring onions. serve with rice.
today's song: another nostalgic college angst song: Keith Sweat, Twisted
(can i just say, 1996-1997 represent!)