“Mapo tofu is one of my favourite dishes,” says chef Josh Niland. “The spicy sichuan ingredients mixed with the minerality and richness of the tuna and the creaminess of the tofu is such a good match. I promise you won’t miss the traditional recipe once you’ve tried this version.”
Tuna mapo tofu
- Mortar and pestle
- Food processor
- Heavy-based saucepan
- serving bowls
- 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 190 grams fresh ginger peeled
- 190 grams garlic cloves peeled
- 10 french shallots peeled
- 375 grams doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)
- 300 ml grape-seed oil
- 80 ml shaoxing rice wine
- 50 grams caster sugar
- 125 ml tamari
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1.8 kg tuna minced/ground
- 200 grams silken tofu cut into small cubes
- 1 bunch spring onions finely sliced
- 40 grams toasted sesame seeds
- 1 red chilli dried, finely sliced (optional)
- short-grain rice steamed, to serve
- Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry frying pan until fragrant, then use a mortar and pestle to grind to a rough powder. Set aside.
- Place the ginger, garlic, shallots, doubanjiang and 150ml (5 fl oz) of the grape-seed oil in a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste.
- Heat 100ml (3½ fl oz) of the remaining grape-seed oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Add the paste and fry, stirring occasionally, for eight to 10 minutes until dried and fragrant, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes, until the rawness from the vegetables has been completely cooked out. Stir in the shaoxing wine, sugar, tamari and one-third of the ground Sichuan peppercorns, then spoon the mixture into a large bowl.
- Wipe out the pan, add the sesame oil and remaining two-and-a-half tablespoons of grape-seed oil and heat over a high heat. Working in two batches, add the tuna mince to the pan and fry for two minutes, or until the mince is coloured and has separated into individual strands, then stir through the fried paste mixture to combine.
- To assemble the mapo tofu, return the tuna mixture to the saucepan and warm through over a low heat. Add the tofu, cover with a lid and heat for three minutes, then spoon into serving bowls. Top with the spring onion, sesame seeds, chilli, if using, and the remaining ground Sichuan peppercorns.
- Serve with steamed rice, if you like.
Take One Fish: The New School Of Scale-to-Tail Cooking And Eating by Josh Niland is published by Hardie Grant. Photography by Rob Palmer.