It’s not mapo dofu. And it’s not yourpo dofu. It’ mypo dofu. Completely inauthentic, but still pretty darned spicy and tasty.
Sautee a bunch of onions, or whatever other veggie you love (for me it’s onions).
Toss in some minced beef (or maybe it was lamb. Probably lamb).
Cook until browned, then realize you have absolutely no hot bean paste of any kind, and toss in some Thai chili and garlic paste and stir around for a few mintues.
This is the kind I really like and usually have on hand: “Ground Chili & Garlic in Oil“. It’s under $3 per 8 oz jar at any of the Asian markets in the area. Different kind of heat than Sriracha. Seems warmer and more in the back of the mouth/tongue than Sriracha.
A little blop of oyster sauce (left) and garlic & black bean sauce (right). Let everything cook together for a minute or two.
Then crank the heat up and add some chicken broth.
Once that’s hot and toasty, toss in some pressed, cubed tofu. Seriously, drain the tofu and pull as much liquid out of there as you can. Albany John likes wrapping a block in a tea towel and letting it sit in the fridge overnight. Pulls a lot out, and doesn’t make a mess.
I remember trying to like tofu when I was a teenager because I thought it was healthy, and because I’m Chinese, and DUH, all Chinese people HAVE to love tofu, right? But living in Texas, all I had access to were the vacu-sealed boxes of silken tofu that I ate unpressed. Needless to say, it took a while for me to come around to the idea that tofu actually is tasty, and not just some kind of joke played on us by the Chinese and vegetarians.
But yeah, pressing out the liquid really lets it become a sponge that absorbs other flavors. Otherwise you get chunks of chalkiness. And who likes that?
However, Albany John and I did have some ma la peppers. Sichuan peppercorns. Numbing berries of pepper. I crushed up a bunch. HAHA. Thwack with the broad side of the cleaver. Thwack, thwack!
Toss in some cornstarch mixed with liquid to thicken it all up.
Looks close enough to me. Could have used some of that hot soy bean paste. The heat really mellowed out the next day. But overall the tofu didn’t just taste like chalky, bland tofu, so I was happy with my ghetto mypo dofu.