Monday, January 23, 2012

#181 A Cold Wintry Night and Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu

It was a cold wintery evening this Friday and the windchill made it feel even colder than it appeared on my thermostat. I left work and felt the chill as I walked to my car. The wind hit my nose and chin as if it wanted to taunt me, all the moisture seemed to drain out of my cheeks. I can barely feel my face and I've parked all the way at the end of the mile long parking lot. The roughness of the wind from last night convinced me to lather up my hands in lotion, but my face still feels the pain from exposure to the chilly air. An hour later, it surely feels good to come home and get hit with a waft of warm air as I stepped into the comfort of my warm home. The heat lit up my face and my feet get warmer as they touched the hardwood floor. I asked "What's for dinner honey"? ---I didn't get an answer from upstairs. There is a pause before I hear "Do you want to carryout Pizza or something?" Oh well, that's just like R.  It doesn't matter if the weather is freezing cold or steaming hot its always one thing for him---- PIZZA!! I should've known! 

Should I resort to delivery after all? No and I'm feeling the hunger pangs growing. Remember? ....I desperately needed something spicy and hot to warm up my frozen limbs. January is National Soup Month after all, and to celebrate it I ventured out to make a soup or at least something close to one!! a quick peek in the fridge and I salvage some tofu and Portobello mushrooms. A Spicy Szechuan dish 'Ma Po Tofu' comes to mind. A soup normally made with marinated beef, mashed black beans and tofu in a hot and spicy sauce.   Did you know that 'Ma Po Tofu' actually means 'Pock -marked grandmother'? The dish got its name from a woman called Qiaoqiao who came up with the dish. It turns out that when her husband died, she was trying to survive along with her sister-in-law by opening up a new restaurant. She served patrons with stewed tofu only because there was a beef and tofu shop on either side of her residence and the final product tasted so ridiculously good. So when she passed on, the dish was dedicated to her:)

Anyway, I get the tofu all chopped up, putting together the spicy sauce.  I may have hit the mark with the spices to add to the sauce.  Now, all I need to do is add a chopped substitution like Portobello mushrooms to replace the meat. Wait a minute, is that a nice can of chopped waterchestnuts in my pantry? Mmmm "Why not"? I threw that in for a slow braising and in about 30 minutes a lovely hot pot was ready to be served. A gorgeous soup such as this one is just the perfect meal to enjoy in the peak of winter.Steamed rice is optional but the tofu by itself is soft and flavorful. After a bowl of this, it warmed me up so well, I set up to take my best spot on the couch getting ready to watch my favorite TV show. On another note maybe R will call in for Pizza tomorrow LOL...... Good night!!
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
4 portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, chopped
1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce,
1 1/4 cups mushroom broth, or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry(I used some red wine instead),
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 14-ounce package firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

This recipe has been submitted to the Blog Hop event at Recipe Lion.............

How to:
1.Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and chile-garlic sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, 4 to 6 minutes.
2.Add broth, sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, tofu and water chestnuts and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a simmer, for 10 minutes to blend flavors.
3.Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the saucepan and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes.


  1. I love this one a lot..Totally Yummy..


  2. its crazy its so cold there and we have had the mildest of winters to date here in texas. This soup though looks delish regardless of the temperature

  3. KB we've been having a weather 'roller-coaster' in our neck of the woods. It was 50 degrees a couple days last week and then it dropped below normal Friday and then Saturday it was snowing. On Monday we had school closings due to some freezing rain in the AM. Warm Wishes:)

  4. If only the husband would eat some tofu! This looks comforting, delicious and healthy.

  5. I have heard of the pock mark grandma title but the dish is great.
    See how you put it together so quick? And you could have steamed rice ready about that time as well.
    Nice going and your recipe is superb.

  6. Malli thanks for stopping by our blog today! This soup looks amazing! I look forward to following you! :) 2 sisters recipes!

  7. This article helps me a lot. Nice work!


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