Vegan Mapo Tofu

Total time: At least an hour, but I really have no memory of my timeline that day. This is why I need to blog on the same day.

Source: The Complete Plant Based Cookbook

Servings: 6, maybe 7. Depends on how much rice you eat.

You guys, this one was a labor of love. I mean, cooking it wasn’t too bad. It was still a commitment, but it was easier than I expected. But shopping for it? I have never been more stressed at a grocery store. I have also never had such a strong desire to be able to read Chinese. I love our international market, because it is huge and has great prices (I do a lot of my non-international shopping there, too), but sometimes the variety is overwhelming – but really, only when it comes to ingredients I am not familiar with. I have no idea what the small nuances are between different chili pastes/sauces, and there are way too many things labelled as “Red Pepper” that are sure to be made of a bunch of different peppers. So Sichuan peppercorns and Sichuan chili powder and broad bean chili paste and fermented black beans stressed me out. But after an hour, I found what I am pretty sure were the right ingredients for less than what they would have cost from Amazon. If anyone has any thoughts on what to do with a pound minus a tablespoon of fermented black beans, though, hit me up.

Anyway, the food itself. This was one I made while the boys were gone because they don’t handle spice well. This definitely wasn’t the spiciest dish I’ve ever made, but I was glad it was just us adults eating it. I ate slowly and drank lots of water, and my nose was definitely running at the end, but it was never painful to eat. The flavors were complex and so good, and I even didn’t mind the two-inch-long pieces of green onion. Everything was there for a reason, and I was really happy with it. The leftovers reheated really well, too!

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