Ingredients for Mapo Tofu(麻婆豆腐)PART 2

Please read part one first, if you have not already.

The format is the same:
ENGLISH NAME (Chinese name – Pinyin – Approximate pronunciation in English letters)
For ingredients not of Chinese origin, such as Korean ingredients:
ENGLISH NAME (Korean name – Revised Romanization* – Approximate pronunciation in English letters)

* The official system if showing Korean words in English letters

KOREAN COARSE HOT PEPPER POWDER FOR KIMCHI (고추가루 – gochugaru – koh choo gah doo**)
** The Korean “r” sound sounds similar to a cross between “r” and “l”, which to me sounds somewhat like “d”. If you speak Spanish, the “r” is similar. (NOT a rolling “r”)
This ingredient, you must locate a Korean grocery store for it. H Mart is one that is a chain and found all over the USA. There are also others, such as Galleria Market in Northridge, where I usually go to. Now, this ingredient is super easy to find at a Korean store. In fact, there is usually one whole aisle labeled “hot pepper powder”, full of every possible brand. However, there is more than one kind of “hot pepper powder”.. which can get confusing! You MUST get the “coarse” one, as opposed to the “fine” one. The coarse one will usually say “coarse” in English, and “김치용” in Korean, meaning “for kimchi”. Also, make sure you do not buy the “extra spicy” kind. Look for the “mild” kind, “덜매운”. An extra tip: to tell the best one, look for “sun dried”, or “태양초”. An easy brand to find with good product is Wang brand. Last time though, I bought this:

It’s a super premium product that costed $17!! However you do not need to buy one that expensive, the Wang brand is good. Lastly, there are two sizes of packaging. I recommend the smaller size if you do not plan on making kimchi, or if it is your first time buying it. I hope you can find the right one!

CHINESE STOCK(鲜汤 – xian tang – syehn tong)
This is NOT an ingredient to buy! You must make this at home yourself. It’s very easy to make. You may substitute water, but it will not give as much umami flavor. You can also use low sodium or no sodium chicken broth in cans or quart size cartons.
To make this stock:
You need about 2 lbs of pork bones and about 1 lb of chicken wings or backs. Smash the pieces into smaller pieces. Bring a large stockpot with water to a boil. Add the pork bones and chicken parts, return to a boil. Then drain and rinse the bones. Discard the water. Put the bones back in the stockpot. Cover with water, and bring to a boil, remove all the foam. I use a tool specifically for removing foam, and it is very handy for soup making. When no more foam left, add a 2-inch pieces of ginger, lightly crushed with the side of a knife, and 2 green onions, tied into knots. Simmer 3 hours, adding boiling water if evaporating under the level of the bones. Strain and let cool to room temperature. Store in glass jars. Refrigerate some and use in a few days, and freeze some. Thaw the stock from the freezer when you need to use it. Before using a jar, remove all the solidified fat on the top. This stock is used in many of my recipes.

SUGAR(糖 – tang – tong)
Sugar is important to cooking. It brings out flavors and rounds out other flavors. Use white granulated sugar. If you try to avoid processed foods, you can use organic granulated sugar, which Trader Joe’s carries.

LIGHT SOY SAUCE(生抽 – sheng chou – shuhng choh)
This is also called “thin soy sauce”. Do NOT use Japanese soy sauce (like Kikkoman) for Chinese food! It is made differently and has a different taste! Japanese soy sauce has much more wheat than Chinese soy sauce. I allow you to use two brands for Chinese cooking. Pearl River Bridge, and Koon Chun. Koon Chun is the only Chinese brand of soy sauce I have seen that has no preservatives. Also, it is from Hong Kong, where quality control is better than in China. Pearl River Bridge is from China, but is a well known brand with very good soy sauce.



STARCH(淀粉 – dian fen – dyehn fuhn)
Potato starch and corn starch both work. Corn starch is cheaper though. I use Argo or Kingston, in the yellow colored plastic container. It’s more convenient than a box.


SICHUAN PEPPERCORNS(花椒 – hua jiao – hwa dzyow)
This unique spice is not at all related to black peppercorns. It is widely used in Sichuan cuisine, giving a unique and stimulating flavor. Many people have wrongfully described the flavor is “spicy”. It is NOT spicy, but often used in spicy dishes because its taste pairs well with spicy food. It can be found in the spices section of an Asian store. I brought them back from my trip to Sichuan. They look like this:

They are usually used in a toasted, ground form. Do not make any batch over 1/4 cup! To make it, add 1/4 cup to a pan or wok with no oil. Heat the wok until hot, stirring the peppercorns. When hot, lower heat to medium and stir for a couple minutes. During this time they will become fragrant and brittle. Do not burn, but do not roast too short either. Put them on a small plate and cool to room temperature. Then put in a mortar or spice grinder (a coffee grinder only for spices) and grind. Do not grind into too fine a powder, but a little coarse. Store in an airtight jar.

Once you find all these ingredients, you’ll also need equipment and techniques, which will be the subject of later blog posts. Thank you for reading!


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