Mapo tofu is wife Jan’s favorite dish, so this is a common meal in our house. The tradition way of making it is with just tofu and sauce with just a bit of pork, green onion, and of course Sichuan pepper. I usually make a stir fried bok choy dish as a vegetable side, but over time I have gotten lazy and combined the dishes into one—adding the bok choy directly into the mapo tofu. Today, Jan asked me to buy some mandarin oranges and I thought, “Why not add them to the dish?”
Tag Archives: tofu
Wife Jan is now on the Noom program and I am trying to adapt my cooking to her needs. I have discovered that all of the recipes in the Noom app come directly from Prevention. While Noom has only been around since 2013, Prevention magazine—which was started in the 1950’s—was a major resource for Jan when she was doing research on holistic health in the 1980. Jan went through the Noom app’s recipes and wrote down the names of several that she wanted me to try making.
My wife Jan has her college friends staying over the weekend. Her friends come with a long list of food restrictions—no wheat, rye, barley, tomatoes, citrus, or lactose—so it is quite the challenge. Japanese cuisine tends to have few of the ingredients I needed to avoid. I decided I would make miso soup, sushi, and a selection of Japanese pickles—cabbage and mixed vegetables.
The best tofu in San Jose is made at San Jose Tofu on Jackson St. Every day, except Sunday, the Tofu man, Chester Nozaki, makes a batch of fresh tofu. If you want to buy some on Saturday go early, because they sell out around noon. There is nothing like the flavor and texture of super fresh tofu.
It is a constant struggle to keep week day meals interesting. My mother, Claudia, was a strict budgeter; with 5 kids to feed she had to be. However, the result of this budgeting was that frequently you could tell what day it was by what was on the table. I had the same problem when I worked off shore, “If it is Tuesday it must be T-bone steaks.” No matter how good the food is, it gets boring if it is predictable.
Mapo Doufu is Jan’s favorite dish. She also prefers it the traditional way that Mao Zedong liked it, made with “stinky tofu.” Mapo Doufu actually takes days to make it properly, because first you need to let the tofu go “bad.” Fortunately she also likes it with made with fresh tofu, which is what I will be doing today.
I would not have anyone believe that every dish I make is a grand success. The recipe I am posting was successful, but the variation pictured was less so. One of the down sides of constantly tinkering with recipes is that not every change works. While these failures are rarely inedible (one day I may tell the story of brine turkey) they are not always popular with my family. If you are lucky your family will tell you when something doesn’t work. Yes, I get “pouty” when they say that they didn’t like something, but that is better than making the same mistake twice thinking they loved whatever it was you had made.
This is my first recipe ever to have a name. I first made this soup when Miriam was a small child. More than once she would toddle up and ask for “Papa’s fine soup” for dinner.
Eilene has been studying animal cruelty and how animals are used in the American food chain in her sociology class. As a result, she has wanted a lot of vegetarian meals lately. I could not spot anything online that really appealed to me. Most of the dishes were variations of noodles in sauce or salads. I wanted something different.