Chapter 22: Expanding the Menu—Mapo Tofu Rice!
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
During this period of time, Xu Les food stall was doing very well.
He quickly earned the money to pay off the mortgage. Even the balance in his bank account had exceeded 20,000 yuan.
“Time to expand the menu.”
Xu Le could clearly feel the limitations of his cooking skills.
Until now, he had only learned the cooking methods of four dishes from the system. They were the Oil Doused Noodles, Kung Pao Chicken, Tomato Egg Soup, and Old Vinegar Radish.
This was far from enough.
In particular, if Xu Le wanted to progress in the takeaway market, the oil doused noodles would not be sufficient as the staple food.
A delivery would take at least half an hour, or even longer. By the time it was delivered to the customer, the noodles would have already become soggy.
“The most suitable food for delivery is still rice.”
After pondering for a moment, Xu Le decided to find a suitable rice dish from the System Shop.
“Rice with green pepper and fried meat… Rice with potato shreds… Mapo tofu rice…”
After softly reading the names of the dishes, Xu Les attention was attracted by the Mapo Tofu Rice.
“The Mapo Tofu Rice seems to be quite good.”
The reason for choosing Mapo Tofu was also simple…
Its just that… Xu Le wants to eat it.
If he wanted to eat it, he would choose it.
After exchanging the dish for 50 Gourmet points, a large amount of information flooded into Xu Les mind.
Xu Le was no longer a stranger to this feeling.
After obtaining the recipe for the new dish, he directly entered the system space to start practicing.
Mapo tofu was still a classic Sichuan dish, and a famous Sichuan dish at that.
It had even been passed on overseas and earned a reputation in countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France. It had progressed from a simple home-cooked dish to a famous international dish.
There was also a story about this dish.
It was said that in 1862, next to the Chengdu Wanfu Bridge, there was a shop named “Chen Xingsheng Rice Store”. The owner, Chen Chunfu, died early, so the small restaurant was run by the lady boss.
Because the lady boss had pockmarks on her face, people called her “Chen Mapo”.
Mapo had a unique technique when it came to cooking tofu. The tofu that she cooked had an excellent color, fragrance, and taste. It was extraordinary and was loved by many. The tofu that she tried to create was known as “Chen Mapo Tofu” and had been passed down until now.
This was the origin of the famous Sichuan dish, Mapo Tofu.
What Xu Le wanted to learn was exactly this unique cooking method.
The specialty of the Mapo Tofu was its numbness, spicyness, hotness, fragrance, crispyness, tenderness, and freshness.
The recipe that Xu Le exchanged from the System Shop particularly detailed these eight descriptions.
The so-called numbness referred to the tofu that had to be sprinkled with a portion of pepper when it was served. It was best if the pepper was the Hanyuan pepper. Its spiciness was pure and it would burn the heart.
Spicyness – use the seeds of the Longtan Temples Da Hong Pao pepper and chop it into fine powder that was fragrant and spicy.
Hotness – maintaining the temperature of the tofu when it was first taken out of the pot. One should eat it while its hot because every bite that was taken later would reduce the taste of the freshly cooked tofu.
Fragrance – start the fire and serve it on the table immediately. You wont be able to smell the beans or the soaked tofu. All you can smell would be the fragrance that arouses your appetite.
Crispyness: Pair the Mapo tofu with meat filling. The color of the meat would be golden yellow. All of them would be discrete pieces and crispy so that it would melt the moment it touches your teeth.
Tenderness – The tofu would be boiled first in the pot. The color would be like white jade, and the shape was angular. It would be as tender as a young girls smooth skin and would shatter upon contact.
Freshness – All raw ingredients were fresh. Be it chilli peppers, onions, or tofu, they should all be top-grade quality so that there would be nothing to nitpick on.
Liveliness – When the tofu was served on the table, the garlic sprouts would be upright in the bowl, as if they had just grown out of the ground. However, when they taste it in their mouths, they dont have the slightest bit of rawness.
Only by accomplishing these eight points could it be considered an authentic and perfect plate of “Mapo Tofu”.
After reading the recipe, Xu Le smiled bitterly.
The difficulty of the dish this time seemed to be higher than before.
It was basically impossible to reach an extremely high realm without at least two to three years of foundational skills.
Fortunately, Xu Le had the system space. Under the time flow of 365 times slower, learning Mapo Tofu was not difficult.
Soon, the surrounding space turned into a vast white fog.
In front of Xu Le, an extremely familiar kitchen stove appeared.
All the ingredients had been prepared.
It was a piece of tofu and it had to be either gypsum tofu or marinated tofu.
Then there were the top quality beef fillings and two fresh garlic sprouts.
In fact, the authentic Mapo Tofu was made with pork fillings because the pork fillings had high oil content.
But Xu Le improvised it and used beef fillings instead.
The M9 standard wagyu beef used had rich snowflake texture and the meat was fresh and nutritious, while the fat content was no less than pork.
Moreover, the texture was completely different.
A high-grade beef with a large amount of soft fat would melt at 25 degrees Celsius, bringing about the texture of melting the moment it entered the mouth.
“Lets begin cooking!”
It was time to try out the new dish again. Xu Le was completely excited.
He placed the gypsum tofu on the chopping board.
The tofu was as white as jade, and as soft and tender as a young girls skin.
Actually, if one wanted to be infinitely close to perfection, even this piece of tofu should be handmade.
But in that case, the production cycle would be a little too long.
Hence, Xu Le still chose the ready-made gypsum tofu as it wouldnt affect the taste much.
The sound of a kitchen knife hitting the chopping board could be heard.
Xu Le had already cut the tofu into small pieces.
He boiled a pot of clear water, added a small amount of salt, and blanched the tofu he had just cut.
The main purpose of this step was to remove the bitterness of the tofu and also to solidify the protein inside.
The process took about 20 seconds. It couldnt be too long, or it would affect the smooth texture of the tofu.
The cooked tofu was placed aside.
Xu Le heated the wok and poured some Hanyuan pepper into it before slowly baking it with a small fire.
It was actually to release the spiciness of the pepper by heating it up.
The baked pepper was set aside to dry.
He poured out 100 grams of Bamboo County bean paste on the chopping board and chopped it into pieces with a knife.
Xu Le held a kitchen knife in each of his left and right hands and thoroughly chopped the Bamboo County Bean Sauce into pieces. Every piece of chilli was chopped into powder, thoroughly releasing the spicy fragrance contained within.
Then, he took out the dried tempeh, washed them clean, soaked them in water, and put them into the minced bean paste.
Then he started mincing again!
He minced them into small bits!
The flavor of the tempeh blended with the paste.
Xu Le took out the dried pepper granules and a rolling pin.
Thats right, it was a rolling pin.
All the pepper granules were placed on a clean board and completely crushed with a rolling pin.
A crisp sound was heard, and the pepper granules were quickly crushed into fine powder.
This was also to better immerse the flavor into the tofu so that the spicy flavor could be infused into the tofu.
The specialty of this Mapo Tofu was its strong taste.
The oil content was high, and so was the taste of the ingredients, so that the dish would be great as a side!