This dish is a play on the Szechuan Chinese dish mabo tofu or mabo doufu (the Japanese spelling is mabo tofu) made with extra firm tofu and spicy chili paste. Traditional mabo tofu is a combination of tofu cubes set in a spicy chili- and bean-based sauce, topped with minced pork or beef. The traditional Asian flavors remain, but the recipe calls for a modern technique resulting in preparation of Tofu gnocchi. Serves 4-6.
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed into a slurry with 1 tablespoon chicken stock
5 scallions, whites chopped, greens cut on a bias
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blend tofu at high speed until smooth.
Transfer tofu purée to a bowl and add tapioca flour and salt. Mix well until smooth then let rest for about 10 minutes.
Transfer tofu to a piping bag with a ½” round tip. To make the gnocchi, cut tofu into 1” long pieces as you squeeze the mixture directly over the boiling water. Cook gnocchi for 1 minute after they float to the surface. Transfer gnocchi to an ice bath with a slotted spoon and cool completely. Drain gnocchi on paper towels.
In a small bowl, mix chili-garlic paste with soy sauce, stock, sugar and sesame oil.
Heat a large sauté pan over high heat and add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add ground pork to pan and brown. Transfer browned pork to a bowl.
In the same sauté pan, add the other tablespoon of oil and sauté onions with garlic and ginger until onions are translucent. Add pork back into pan and then add chili-garlic mixture.
Bring to a boil and then add cornstarch slurry. Bring to a boil again and then reduce heat. Add chopped scallion whites and keep warm.
Heat gnocchi gently in a sauté pan using a small amount of water. When hot, place gnocchi in a bowl and top with ground pork sauce. Garnish with scallion greens.