Saturday, August 21, 2010

What Should I Cook? Mapo Tofu and Chinese Long String Beans

Mapo Tofu with Ground Pork
Long String Beans with Shrimp Paste

I decided to cook Mapo Tofu from scratch and recreate a string bean dish I had previously had at a restaurant. For those that do not want make the mapo tofu sauce from scratch, there is a House and Lee Kum Kee package that is less involved (i.e. just add water, tofu and meat). :D But if you care to experiment and make everything from scratch, you can follow what I did below.

Mapo Tofu - 15 minutes

- 1 Medium Firm Tofu (12 oz), cut into pieces
- 3/4 lb of ground pork
- 2 pieces of green onion stalks, chopped

- 2 tablespoon of Sunchang Gochujang Hot pepper paste (korean brand, red box)
- 1 tablespoon of cooking rice wine (michiu brand)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- a dab of vegetable oil (pork already has some fat)

- 1 teaspoon of corn starch

- water
- Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your pan and drizzle a little bit of vegetable oil (the pork will have some oil already). Throw in the ground pork, season it with salt and pepper and cook on medium-high heat... Let it cook for a few minutes on one side until its getting light brown ... mix and flip it ... season with soy sauce, oyster sauce, cooking rice wine, hot pepper paste... let it brown for another minute, throw in the sliced up tofu and then mix the ingredients together. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Mix the corn starch with some water and pour it into the pan. Reduce to medium heat. The corn starch is used to thicken the sauce. Throw in the chopped green onions and let the ingredients come to a bubble. Cook for a few more minutes and then taste and add more soy/oyster/salt/pepper to your desired taste.

Chinese Long String Beans with Shrimp Paste (10 minutes)
photo courtesy of: The Passionfruit Blogger

This was a bit of an experiment, as I tried to recreate something I tried at a restaurant. I would say its not for everyone, especially if you do not like the flavor of shrimp, but I liked it nonetheless.

- 1 bundled package of Chinese long string beans (found at Chinese supermarket), chop into 3.5 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons of Lee Kum Kee Shrimp Paste (the paste is a grayish/pink tint)
- 1 tspn of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of cooking rice wine (Michiu)
- 1 teaspoon of corn starch
- Water

- Kosher Salt (or whatever salt that you have)

Heat the frying pan/saute pan, put in the vegetable oil. Let the pan heat up. Throw in the Chinese long string beans, salt, shrimp paste, and cooking rice wine into the pan. Saute the beans on both sides for a few minutes on high heat. Mix the corn starch and water and then add to the pan and reduce fire to medium heat. Let the mixture bubble and cook for 1-2 more minutes and then remove. Add more salt to your desired taste.

If you like garlic, you can include 1-2 cloves, chopped. Cook the garlic prior to putting in the string beans and then just cook it until its a light golden brown (1 minute).

Supermarkets/Shopping Area in Chinatown:
- Hong Kong Supermarket on Hester and Mott (you can get everything there)
- Deluxe Meat Market - two entrances on Mott or Elizabeth, between Hester and Grand Street
-- Vegetable stands on Mott Street near the Deluxe Meat Market

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