Archives for posts with tag: spicy

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet (except to say this post is for you, Patri!). The proof is in the pictures, after all. It’s closing in on 2 a.m. here and I am so wishing I had some of this dish leftover to eat right now. Eat at 2 a.m.?! Who does that! Oh, um, me. I’m not afraid to eat at this hour, oh no. A muffin held off most of my hunger but what I really wanted was Ma-Po Tofu.

Bits of beef and soft pieces of tofu have simmered in a salty, spicy red sauce that absolutely screams EAT ME!! And so we did. And it was good. I’m not sure what originally drew me to this recipe — probably the promise of a spicy kick on a cold night — but I’m so glad I made the effort.

Not that it takes much effort to make it. This recipe moves quickly, once you have everything chopped and combined in various bowls. Plate it over a bowl of hot rice and let the flavors scream in your ear (and mouth), too.

Ma-Po Tofu
slightly adapted from Epicurious
serves 4

1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (I used regular, freshly-cracked pepper)
1 1/2 pounds soft (not silken) tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons Szechuan chili sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese black-bean paste
4 Tbsp Hoisin sauce, split
2 Tbsp Asian chili powder (I used 3/4 Tbsp red pepper flakes)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup peanut oil
8 ounces ground beef
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scallion (white and green parts), thinly sliced
1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only), washed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup rice wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Hot rice

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add tofu, remove from heat, and steep (uncovered) for five minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer tofu to a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine chili sauce, black bean paste, 2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

In another small bowl, combine cornstarch and 3 Tbsp water. Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan or wok over medium high heat, then add peanut oil until hot. Add beef, ginger, garlic, scallions and leeks, cooking until meat is fully browned (roughly 3-4 minutes). Add rice wine, cook until mostly evaporated (roughly 1-2 minutes). Add hot bean paste mixture and cook until mixture is incorporated (roughly 1 minute).

Add tofu, broth, soy sauce and remaining 2 Tbsp of Hoisin sauce and bring to a boil. Whisk cornstarch if it has begun to separate, and add to pan. Cook for roughly one minute, or until mixture thickens slightly.

Serve over hot rice, garnishing with chopped cilantro. Enjoy with unabashed ardor.

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Maybe I should have called this blog “soups, stews and other soup/stew-related dishes” because it’s true that I post quite a bit of those kinds of recipes. I never used to be a big soup eater, especially the brothy variety. I never felt completely satisfied after finishing a bowl, and Matthew felt the same way. Lately, however, that seems to be a lot of what we eat and they always end up hitting the spot.

I’m also big on making (and subsequently photographing and blogging about) meals that don’t require multiple side dishes to complete the perfect dinner trifecta — grains, veggies, protein. I prefer all three of those things to come together in one meal, be it a stew over rice/polenta or a soup. So that’s probably the main reason for the overload of the latter on this blog.

But that’s OK because they are all YUMMY! Like this soup, for example. When I saw the original recipe online, I immediately thought “Oh, that would be so good with shrimp. And added veggies. And extra spiciness.” So I wrote down all of my changes and voila, delicious! It’s spicy, but still is packed with flavor from the vegetables and shrimp. Feel free to make any changes you’d like — add more or less of your favorite vegetables or experiment with different spices. You could even switch out the shrimp for tofu, chicken or leave it out altogether for a perfect vegetarian meal. This recipe is very versatile.

Spicy Asian Noodle Soup
inspired by The Daily Spud
serves 6

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 lime, juice of
1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp sriracha sauce
2 tsp Thai chili garlic paste
1 Tbsp lightly packed brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth, +/- 1 cup water
6 oz. thin rice noodles
2 cups cauliflower
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
2 cups packed kale leaves, shredded
3-4 cups napa cabbage, shredded
1 lb raw shrimp, deshelled (I used the 31-40 size)
cilantro, for garnish

In a bowl, mix together first eight ingredients (soy sauce through minced garlic) and set aside. In a large pot, add 6 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add rice noodles, cauliflower, carrot, kale and soy sauce mixture. Lower heat to medium and cook until carrots begin to soften (roughly 5-8 minutes). Add napa cabbage and raw shrimp; cook until shrimp is pink (3-4 minutes). Add extra 1 cup water if necessary. Garnish with cilantro. Consume with abandon (and try not to lick the bowl).