Beancurd what? Pockmarked grandma what? Why would anyone eat something sounds horrible like that?
Whether it’s been lost in translation or it has deeper meaning to the name more than we can imagine, pockmarked grandma’s beancurd basically is mapo tofu; one of popular Chinese dish from Sichuan region.
“Ma” stands for “ma-zi” (Chinese: mázi, 麻子) which means pockmarks.
“Po” is the first syllable of “popo” (Chinese: 婆婆, pópo) which means an old woman or grandma. Hence, mapo is an old woman whose face is pockmarked.
It is thus sometimes translated as “pockmarked grandma’s beancurd”
Most of you probably familiar with the deep red, oily, and spicy version of mapo tofu. It is actually one of my favorite dishes to make and eat.
But if there can be angle’s food cake and devil’s food cake, I would say the regular version of mapo tofu would be devil’s one. However, in my family, we tend to enjoy food less spicy, so I would consider our version of mapo tofu to be angel’s one and here I’d like to share this simple and comforting recipe with you.
Mapo Tofu (angel style)
1 block of silken tofu (cubed)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 green onion (chopped)
2 bird’s eye chilis
100 g minced pork
50ml water (optional)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
- heat the pan to medium high heat, add vegetable oil
- once the oil is hot, stir fry garlic and minced pork until the pork is half cooked
- add cubed tofu to the pan, give it a stir, lower the heat and let it simmer (some tofu release more water than the other, after simmering for few minutes, if it’s too dry, you may add some water)
- bring the heat up to high, add fish sauce
- turn of the heat, garnish with chopped green onions and sliced chilis
* If you prefer a quick fix for traditional style mapo tofu (not how it’s traditionally made), follow this same recipe and the only extra step you need to do is just adding a spoonful of this hot chili goodness!
Years ago I went to a party at my friend’s house and he made his version of delicious quesadilla using kalua pig. Then I thought, hmm, what can I put in my quesadilla to create flavours that hit my tastebuds at all the right spots!
Any of you who enjoy Thai food must have tried or heard of ‘Pad Krapow,’ stir-fried meat (chicken tends to be the popular choice) with holy basil; normally served over rice with crispy edge fried egg. To take this dish to the next level, some people use crispy pork belly but for me roast duck is the answer.
One day I had leftover roast duck stir-fried with basil, I figured, this is it! I’m going to put this in my quesadilla! It turned out that the pungent heat from bird’s eye chilis in the stir-fry is balanced out nicely with melted mature cheddar cheese.
If you can’t find holy basil, try using Italian basil, just like I did in this recipe. I prefer the flavour and aroma of Italian basil to sweet basil for this particular dish.
You can make plenty of this roast duck stir-fry, enjoy it with rice first and save the leftover to make quick and easy quesadilla the next day.
Check out the recipe and YouTube clip below
Roast Duck Quesadilla
half roast duck
7 clove of garlic
7 bird’s eye chilis
1 cup of Italian basil
4 sheets of corn tortillas
200g cheddar cheese
- dice roast duck meat and add into a dry frying pan on medium heat
- once the duck fat begin to render, add chopped garlic and chilis, continue stir-frying until fragrant (don’t cook too long, the meat will get tough)
- add basil leaves, give it a quick stir, remove from the heat and set it aside
- place a sheet of tortilla on a pan, medium high heat
- spread generous amount of cheddar cheese over tortilla, add a layer of roast duck stir-fry, top it with more cheese then place another sheet of tortilla over it
- once the tortilla is crisped and cheese is melted, flip it. It should take 1-2 minutes to cook on each side
After writing this, now I’m thinking, next time I make it, I’m going to add an egg in the middle to add extra gooey texture, I imagine it must be amazing!
Bon Appetit 😉
One of my favourite Japanese cartoon characters is Kinnikuman. He’s a clumsy version of superhero. Kinnikuman and I have one thing in common; we’re obsessed about food. Kinnikuman loves his gyudon (beef bowl) so much. He even has his dance move and theme song for it! Now, that’s beyond my ability.
Though I have no dance or song for my food but I sure do know how to make gyudon. This rice bowl is a perfect comfort meal for weeknight. There are lots of gyudon recipes out there. My recipe is just slightly different; I sear the beef first to render some the fat out of the meat and let the meat cook in its own fat for extra flavour.
In my town, there is a Japanese supermarket where I can easily pick up beef for Japanese style stir-fry which is thinly sliced ribeye. If you cannot get this type of preparation of beef from your local butcher, you can try freezing the beef about 1-2 hours, this will make it easy to slice it thin.
See the recipe and short video clip I’ve created below.
Gyudon (Beef Bowl)
100 g sliced beef
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon mirin
1/2 tablespoon sake
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon hon dashing
- make the sauce: on medium heat heat, bring water to a boil, add hon dashi, stir to dissolve, add soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar, bring it to a boil again, set aside
- sear sliced beef on medium heat until it’s sizzling on its own fat, add grated ginger, onion, and the sauce. Lower the heat and simmer until onion is tender
- serve on a bowl of steamed Japanese rice, sprinkle with chopped scallions, garnish with beni shoga (pink pickled ginger)
- option: Shichimi (flavoured chilli) can be used to add a bit of spicy flavour