1 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
14 ounce package of firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger (I use the jarred minced and use 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons dark miso
6 teaspoons chili oil
2 teaspoons fermented black beans
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms with stems removed
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Microwave water, salt and dried mushrooms in a covered bowl for 1 minute. Allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms, leaving the liquid in the same bowl.
Microwave peppercorns in a small bowl for 30 seconds. Allow them to cool then grind with a mortar and pestle.
Place the scallions on a cutting board and using a chef knife, crush the white parts. Cut the scallions into 1 inch pieces. Place the tofu and scallions in the reserved mushroom liquid and microwave uncovered for 7 minutes.
In a food processor, process the garlic, ginger, miso, chili oil and black beans for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as you go. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, ancho chile powder, cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of the ground Sichuan peppercorns and continue to process for 2 more minutes. Transfer paste to another bowl.
In the same food processor (without rinsing), place the soaked and fresh mushrooms and pulse until finely chopped.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook, breaking up, until mushrooms caramelize and start to stick to the bottom of the skillet--about 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl.
Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the spice paste. Cook, stirring frequently until the paste darkens and oil begins to separate--about 3 minutes.
Pour the tofu, including the liquid into the skillet, followed by hoisin, sesame oil, and mushrooms. Stir frequently until it comes to a simmer--about 3 minutes.
Whisk soy sauce and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Add it to the skillet and continue cooking, stirring frequently until thickened--about 3 minutes.
My husband loves Mapo Tofu but I was never a fan. We played around with this recipe and now I am as much a fan as he is. This recipe was modified from the one in Cooks Illustrated. Serve over rice and garnish with chopped fresh scallions.