Ma Po Doufu ('Pock-marked Ma's Tofu')
Prepare and set these aside:
2 packages firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into bite-size cubes
approx 2 cups frozen veggie mince (or reconstituted dried TVP)
1/2 cup shredded dried black fungus (wood ears), soaked in hot water
2 whole dried red chiles
Combine in a bowl:
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2-1/2 Tbs Sichuan chili bean paste
1 Tbs black bean paste
1 tsp sugar or a Tbs mirin
4 Tbs cornstarch
a big squirt of garlic paste from a tube (or 2 fat cloves minced)
a smaller squirt ginger paste (or about 1 tsp minced)
a squirt of chile paste from a tube (or a pinch of ground cayenne, or a chopped fresh hot red chile)--adjust heat to taste, but traditionally should be pretty hot!
several grinds black pepper and Sichuan peppercorns
sesame oil to taste (a little goes a long way)
about a cup of water
Heat a little peanut oil in a sauce pan or wok. Toast the dried red chilies for a few seconds, then pour the liquid mixture in sauce pan and add the veggie mince and wood ears. Stir and simmer until thickened and veggie mince is done to your liking. Taste for spiciness and adjust accordingly. (You might want more pepper, more soy sauce, whatever.) When it's perfect for you, add the tofu, stir very carefully, and allow to heat through.
Serve over rice,with a large portion of crisp stir-fried mixed vegetables on the side. (Keep the flavour of the side dish light because the tofu dish is very rich. I just put some ginger in my veg and didn't make a sauce...) Garnish the mapo doufu with fresh chopped green onions.
We had this for dinner last night!