2nd Place Winner
Vivian L. Towe’s Ma Po Tofu
24 oz firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
8 oz fresh (or dried and reconstituted) shiitake mushrooms, chopped*
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons regular or light soy sauce
2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce**
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup of cold water
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil for sautéing
*If using dried mushrooms, be sure to save water from reconstituting the mushrooms
**Available in Asian grocery stores
Mix cornstarch and water to form a slurry. In a wok or large frying pan, heat vegetable oil until hot. Carefully add chili sauce and soy sauce to hot oil and stir for a minute. Add garlic and stir.
Add tofu, mushrooms and leftover mushroom water (if available) and stir fry for 3-4 minutes, or until tofu is evenly coated and heated through. Move tofu to the sides of the pan so that the sauce runs to the center. Take the pan off the heat. Stir the slurry briefly and add to the sauce, stirring quickly. Put the pan back on the heat. Add scallions and stir fry for another minute.
Pour onto serving plate. Pour sesame oil on top and sprinkle cilantro. The heat of the dish will wilt the cilantro and release the aroma of the sesame oil.