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mapo tofu


Mapo Tofu is my favorite dish.

That's a pretty big statement but it's one I'm comfortable making. I've yet to eat the perfect mapo but I've tried it at every single opportunity. I've had mind-blowingly spicy mapo (R.I.P., Lucky Strike PDX), chunky oily mapo, awful mapo, confusing mapo (with portabello mushrooms and more than a little tomato flavor), and my own kitchen experiments which have ranged from bland to delicious.

My current favorite restaurant mapo is from Mission Chinese Food, which I've had two or three times while visiting San Francisco (check out their beautiful myspace page for the NYC location). My other favorites can be found at Grand Sichuan in NYC, Dew Drop Inn in Honolulu, and Sichuan Style in Berkeley.

I found the Mission Chinese cookbook at the SE Powells recently and made its mapo recipe tonight. It's already vegan by default so I made the recipe as faithfully as I could (including measuring, which I rarely do). Naturally, I used Rainier for the required cheap beer and was lucky enough to use fancy doubanjiang that a friend gave me before moving away.

The recipe is involved but effective. The base sauce came out deliciously but, sadly, the chili crisp oil I used was way too salty and compromised the finished product. I can tell it's a great recipe and I'll be sure trying it again assuming I can find a less salty chili crisp oil.