6:18 AM EST
Spicy Northern-Style Tofu | Guo Ta Dou Fu (鍋塌豆腐)
Spicy Northern Style Tofu (鍋塌豆腐, guo ta dou fu) is second only to Korean Yangnyom Dobu (양념 두부; our recipe here) as the test kitchen’s favorite tofu dish. The tofu’s delicate golden exterior wonderfully contrasts with its silken interior. But what we really love is the sauce. The sauce! At its base is Pixian doubanjiang (郫县豆瓣酱), a special fermented chili and broad bean paste from China’s Sichuan region which provides the sauce with its layers of complex savory, earthy and spicy flavors along with a subtle sweetness. We add a bit of Sichuan pepper (花椒)for its characteristic numbing heat known as málà (麻辣) and sesame oil for warmth and richness. The only thing that prevents us from making this dish more often is the fact that it is fried and therefore a bit messy.
• 1 block of extra firm tofu (approximately 16 oz / 454 g)
• Peanut oil for frying
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 tablespoon minced ginger
• 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper (花椒), dry roasted and ground
• 1½ cups chicken stock (our recipe here)
• 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
• 2 tablespoons Sichuan chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
• 1/2 teaspoon white sugar or pulverized Chinese rock sugar (冰糖)
• 1 teaspoon sesame oil
• 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
• Special equipment: candy/fry thermometer
Prepare the Tofu
For best results, remove as much moisture from the tofu before frying. Wrap the entire block in paper towel and place between two plates. Stack a heavy book on top of the plate and allow the tofu to drain for 20 minutes. Unwrap and slice into rectangles approximately 1½” long, 1/2” wide and 1/2” thick (4 cm x 1.25 cm x 1.25).
Fry the Tofu
Get organized for frying: have at the ready separate bowls filled with cornstarch and egg. Separately, bring a pot of oil (we prefer using a smaller pot – less oil – which requires, however, working in batches) to 375°F / 190°C. When the oil’s temperature is stable, gently toss the tofu in the cornstarch, dip into the egg and drop into the oil. Only prepare the tofu immediately before you fry it. Once the tofu is golden remove with a slotted spoon or kitchen spider (pictured) and transfer to paper towel to absorb excess oil. Pierce each piece of fried tofu with a fork.
In a separate pan fry the ginger and Sichuan pepper in a bit of oil until fragrant, just a few seconds. Next, add the stock and whisk in the Shaoxing wine, chili bean paste and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a vigorous simmer. Fold in the tofu and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, remove the pan from the heat, drizzle the sesame oil over the tofu and give it a final stir. Transfer the tofu to a serving dish and garnish with scallion. Serve with steamed rice.