Grandma’s pork and tofu recipe

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This dish, called ma po dofu, apparently means ‘pock-marked grandmother’. ‘Ants climbing trees’ is another recipe in this book exemplifying the Chinese penchant for incongruous names. While its name may not be the most appealing, this flavoursome dish certainly is. Round it all out with a dark ale

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 10½ oz (300 g) minced (ground) pork
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 14 oz (400 g) soft tofu cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) cubes
  • 2 fl oz/¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable or light peanut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salted fermented black beans smashed with a for
  • 1 tablespoon chilli paste
  • steamed rice to serve
  • 2 fl oz/¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
How to Make It
  1. Combine the pork, soy sauce, rice wine, cornflour and salt in a bowl and set aside. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and the tofu. Remove from the heat and allow the tofu to steep in the water until needed.
  2. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and swirl the wok to coat in the oil. Add the garlic, ginger and spring onion and stir-fry for just a few seconds, or until softened and aromatic. Add the pork and stir-fry for 4–5 minutes, or until well combined, breaking up any clumps. Stir the black beans and chilli paste through, then simmer for 2–3 minutes, until the juices are a chilli-red colour.
  3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Drain the tofu. Add the sauce to the wok, then gently stir in the tofu. Gently simmer until the sauce coats the pork and tofu. Remove the wok from the heat, cover and leave to sit while you steam your rice. During this time all the flavours will meld beautifully.

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