Ma Po Tofu, crispy fried tofu, lean ground pork, and a flavorful sauce. Done in less than 30 minutes. Good and good for you. Win-Win!
Behind the scenes of Ma Po Tofu
I see you turning your nose up at this recipe. You think you hate tofu.
Tofu really has no real flavor on its own, acting like a chameleon and stealing the flavors from the sauce or whatever other ingredients that surround it. I think people who don't like tofu either just plain don't like the idea of it or don't like the texture of it. But with this preparation, the whole tofu texture goes right out the door.
Ma Po Tofu is said to be named for the pockmarked (po) wife (ma) who supposedly invented it at her husband's Sechwein restaurant. Sechwein food is known to be quite spicy and hot, while my version is spicy, it's not overly hot. It is, however, filled with delicious flavor.
What do you need to make Ma Po Tofu? The ingredients include:
- Tofu - use firm or soft, but don't use silken as it's too soft and will fall apart when you press and fry it.
- Lean pork -Use pork tenderloin or a center-cut pork chop. You can substitute chicken breast or thigh if you wish.
- Edamame - found in the frozen section of most grocery stores.
- Fresh herbs - these include ginger root, garlic, jalapeno pepper, green onions, and cilantro.
- Soy sauce - I always use low-sodium.
- Oyster Sauce, chili garlic sauce, and fish sauce - all of which can be found in almost every grocery store these days, otherwise, look to an Asian market.
- Lime juice - from a fresh lime
- Noodle - I LOVE this with Soba noodles, but you could use whole wheat angel hair pasta, or even rice noodles in its place.
But first, let's talk about Tofu
Tofu, also called bean curd, is a food made by coagulating soy juice and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks.
Doesn't sound super appealing, does it?
Tofu has a low-calorie count, relatively large amounts of protein, and little fat. It is high in iron and may also be high in calcium and/or magnesium.
Sounding a little bit better?
In this recipe for Ma Po Tofu, I take firm tofu and dry it between paper towels weighed down with a plate. This takes the excess moisture out of the slices and then you can fry it and get a crisp edge. Now we have different tofu.
Whether you are gluten-free or not, Soba Noodles ROCK
Soba contains a type of polysaccharide that is easily digested. Soba noodles also contain antioxidants, and essential nutrients including choline, thiamine, and riboflavin.
And if your soba is made with 100% buckwheat, which it should be, it's also gluten-free.
The saucy sauce
The sauce is spicy, but not overly so. It gives that crisp tofu a nice spicy flavor. As an extra added bonus there's edamame. Edamame beans are naturally gluten-free and low in calories, contain no cholesterol, and they are an excellent source of protein, iron, and calcium.
Combine this with the lean ground pork tenderloin and you have a meal, on the table in less than 30 minutes, which is delicious and good for you.
I love Win-Win!
If you don't like or want to eat pork, this dish is also wonderful when made with chicken breasts or thighs. Just follow the same procedures as you would for the pork.
Want more Asian Inspired Dinners? Try one of these
Ma Po Tofu
- 1 12 – ounce container firm tofu
- ½ cup low-salt chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce - If keeping this gluten-free use a gluten-free soy substitute. Soy has gluten.
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil divided
- 8 ounces pork tenderloin cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger root
- 3 cloves garlic chopped (1 ½ teaspoons)
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
- ⅓ cup sliced green onions 3 whole onions
- ⅓ to ½ cup cilantro leaves
- 11/2 teaspoons Fish Sauce
- 1 tablespoon about ½ lime juice
- ½ cup edamame thawed if frozen
- 8 ounces Soba noodles cooked according to package directions, or whole wheat angel hair pasta
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- 2 green onions sliced thinly for garnish (optional)
- Slice the tofu into ½ inch slices and place between several layers of paper towels put a dinner plate on top and let stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the plate, discard the paper towels, and cut into ½ inch cubes.
- In a small bowl whisk together the chicken broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and garlic chili sauce; set aside.
- In a food processor, add the pork cubes, ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and green onions, cilantro, fish sauce, and lime juice. Pulse until the meat is finely chopped.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add the tofu and saute, stirring frequently, until lightly browned; remove and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining oil and the pork mixture; saute, stirring frequently to break up the pieces; saute until the pork loses its pink color. Add the edamame and tofu; saute for 1 minute.
- Add the sauce mixture; stir well and bring to a simmer; simmer until slightly thickened.
- Toss the hot cooked noodles with the sesame seed oil. Divide the pasta among four heated bowls, top with the Ma Po Tofu, and garnish with green onions, if desired.