With some leftover ingredients in the fridge, I was able to make a very nice version of spicy mapa dubu (aka mapo tofu) using tteok (rice cakes) and the regular ingredients of ground pork and tofu. For the past few weeks I have putting tteok into most, if not all, of the dishes that I have been making to add more substance and chewy goodness to everything, and it was no exception with this mapa dubu version. Luckily, the final result was uninterrupted and got a surprising “that’s some really good stuff” by my taste testers. While making this dish, it reminded me of my college years when this was part of my weekly meals. Back then I would buy the instant version (a la pre-made sauce) that made for a quick and always satisfying meal each and every time. These days, however, as I try to be a little more health-conscious in my cooking, I try to avoid the instant stuff and use more “natural” ingredients. Utilizing more natural ingredients may be more time-consuming, you won’t regret the end results: better taste and healthier bowels. ^^
This dish is one of several Chinese dishes that have been adopted by Koreans, the others include the popular jajangmyun (noodles with black bean sauce) and jjambbong (spicy noodle soup). Mapa dubu is originally from Sichuan and is supposed to be quite spicy, but I went ahead and toned it down using Korean red pepper paste (gochujang) and red pepper flakes (gochugaru).
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” ~ Cesar Chavez
Servings: 2 people
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 block silken tofu, cut into cubes
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 3, 4 cups garaetteok (rice cakes)
- 2 tbsp gochujang (red pepper paste)
- 1, 2 tbsp gochugaru (red pepper flakes)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 2, 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 green onions, cut into one-inch pieces
- sesame seeds (garnish)
- deulkkae garu (perilla seeds powder; optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Drain tofu of excess water and set out for at least 10 minutes. Cut the tofu into cubed pieces, set aside.
- Heat up a wok or non-stick frying pan and pour in generous amount of cooking oil. Add the minced garlic and ground pork, saute until the pork is cooked through.
- Add in the tteok along with the sauce ingredients, lower the heat and simmer for about 3-5 mins or until the sauce thickens.
- Add in tofu pieces and green onions, stir gently to blend the tofu well with the sauce.
- Garnish with sesame seeds. Plate accordingly and serve hot.
*As with most Korean dishes, the spiciness level can be toned down by reducing the amount of gochujang and/or adding some more sugar and deulkka garu (perilla seeds powder). Also, sample the sauce and adjust accordingly to personal preference.