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Monday, October 13, 2014

Paneer Mapo Tofu

Despite what the mainstream has been telling us for years, tofu is not the healthiest substance.  I say substanc, because it is originally a bean.. A bean that should not be eaten raw, but rather fermented.  I call it a substance because it has been transformed into items ranging from fake beef to ice cream.  Its oil is used as an emulsifier and its protein count is used as an excuse to indulge in soy products without counting.  I'm not a nutritionist, but I've done my homework on the subject and the bottom line is this:
to get anything good out of soy, it must be fermented and preferably organic, otherwise it works as a nutrient absorption inhibitor, much like raw chickpeas.. but nobody would eat chickpeas raw!  I mentioned organic because, aside from wine grapes, soy producers use the most transgenics and pesticides than any other producer.  I always look for organic or non gmo fermented soy products.
To make things clear, edamame and mung bean and their sprouts are not the same species as soy, and have no issues.  Soy sauce, doubanjiang, and duo chi are fermented, while soy milk and tofu are not.  For this reason (and the hormone reason I haven't mentioned) I've decided to replace anything involving tofu with (homemade) paneer.
You can do your own homework about that issue.. I just wanted to explain why I "sabotaged" a perfectly authentic Sichuan recipe by replacing tofu with paneer.
I may have also made a slight other change.  The original recipe calls for ground pork.
I just like mini pigs too much to knowingly buy ground pork.. so I use ground turkey, which is a great pork replacer in recipes such as this one or egg rolls.. or pretty much anything.  Not to mention, pork isn't very nutritious, so let Babe live and eat the gobbler!
The Ma La in this dish is out of this world.  I never thought something so pungent would be so quick to put together (if you have all the ingredients, that is).
Inspired by ChinaSichuanFood
Serves 3-4
250g (9oz) paneer, soaked and drained
200g (7oz) ground turkey, cooked plain
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 Tbsp Doubanjiang (Pi Xian broadbean paste)
1 tsp Dou hi (fermented black soy beans)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp light soy sauce
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp corn starch mixed with 4 Tbsp water
3 green onions, chopped
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, dry roasted and ground
1.  Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry the dou chi, doubanjiang, and garlic until a fragrant aroma starts wafting.
2.  Add the paneer.  Stir to coat and heat until bubbly.
3.  Add the water and corn starch mixture.  Simmer for about 2 minutes.  The sauce should thicken.
4.  Add the cooked ground turkey, most of the green onion, and half the ground Sichuan peppercorns.  Stir to heat through.
Serve with rice and garnish with chopped green onions and a pinch of ground peppercorns.

Rant and food choices aside, this Mapo Tofu has been on my mind since my quest to find a special ingredient you can only get in Asian Wonderland, dou chi.  The original reason I wanted to buy that was to make Mapo Tofu.. it's just that I hadn't gotten around to buying turkey and grinding it in my meat grinder since.. well.. the middle of summer!
The result is a silky spicy tangy mix of textures and flavors that pairs just magically with the rice.
It might almost help you forget the present...
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