"Lai" Rice Balls, Ma Po Tofu or "Measled Woman" Bean Curd (Sichuan food)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Jun 7 03:29:01 UTC 2004

MAPO + BEAN--3,970 Google hits, 34 Google Groups hits
MA PO + BEAN--3,780 Google hits, 167 Google Groups hits
("Mapo"/"Ma Po" is not in the revised OED--ed.)

   I've been eating at various places around town (New York City) while I stick around and wait for the computer databases to arrive. This is a break from my usual lifestyle of the cheapest/smallest/worst living conditions and food, reflecting my real status in this town and in life.
    This past Wednesday saw newspaper food reviews of a new Egyptian theme restaurant on East 59th and First Avenue, the new branch of Totonno's Pizzeria, and Abbondanza's on Bleecker--all placed I'd already been to.
   The past week I've been to the Ethiopian Restaurant on First Avenue, the Jasmine (Thai) Restaurant on Second Avenue, Curry Leaf (Indian) on "Curry Hill"/Lexington Avenue, a place in "Little Korea" (West 32nd Street), and Teodoro's (Italian) on East 57th and Lexington (it was featured in the Times magazine last Sunday).
   Today, I tried a place about a year old and just a block away--Grand Sichuan Eastern, 1049 Second Avenue, near 56th Street.  The menu is very informative, but it's not all on the internet as I was told it was:


...the excellent bean curd with spicy sauce ($7.25) is named after a woman with ''a spotty, pockmarked face.''
Ma po tofu, bean curd with spicy minced pork and chili peppers ($8.25), is a classic Sichuan dish, invented, the guide explains, by an old woman with a face pockmarked by measles.
The new dishes, all with poetic names and created for an emperor, include Growing Grass in Spring Must Be Like Green and Threaded Silk ($5.95), a mixture of fresh sliced vegetables served cold in a fiery yet flavorful sauce, which sets the mouth aglow and demands well-timed mouthfuls of rice and water. Another dish, Green Parrot With a Red Mouth ($4.95), cooked spinach served cool with a sauce of ginger and hot oil, is more refreshing than spicy with a gingery kick.
Most Chinese restaurants practice a time-honored deception, offering one menu to their Chinese customers and another to everybody else. Grand Sichuan takes a different tack: it labels dishes that it thinks will please American tastes as ''American Chinese,'' and also hands out a 27-page pamphlet that explains five Chinese regional cuisines and describes dozens of dishes the restaurant serves.

   From the menu (but not the web site):

(No Google hits--ed.)

(Couldn't find the dish on Google--ed.)

(Only 18 Google "wonder sauce" hits, with just a few for Chinese--ed.)

(Supposedly famous, but this was about the only Google hit--ed.)
... traditional rice balls for you that was made by myself. Its recipe is based on the
famous rice ball from Chengdu, Sichuan (it is called Lai Tang Yun, a famous ...
14k - Cached - Similar pages

(Probably "chung choi"--ed.)
... rock salt (or to your taste) 1/2 cup raw peanuts Garnish: chopped lettuce chung
choi, chopped fine (** Chung choi is a Chinese salted preserved cabbage. ...
alt.cooking-chien - Feb 6, 2000 by Connie Van - View Thread (1 article)

   For a bit more about that measled woman...

Looking for Nirvana on a Chinese Peak; It isn't easy to find amid the guides and peddlers of the holy Emei Shan Chinese Peak
By JOHN KRICH. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Feb 9, 1992. p. XX22 (2 pages)

   1. Scrutinizing Chinese Food
By FRED FERRETTI. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Feb 1, 1978. p. C6 (1 page)
  "The Scrutable Feast is an odd and wonderous book.  (...)
Or Ma Po-style bean curd, a dish of ground pork and bean curd, so called nbecause Ma Po literally means pockmarked old woman.

   2. Hwei Ping; Richman on Restaurants
Phvllis C. Richman. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). Washington, D.C.: Jan 14, 1979. p. SM32 (2 pages)

   3. DINING OUT From Hunan to Canton to Sichuan; *Woks
By FLORENCE FABRICANT. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Nov 4, 1979. p. LI21 (1 page)

   4. Sichuan Food--at the Source
By FOX BUTTERFIELD. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Mar 5, 1980. p. C10 (1 page)

   5. A Peppery Tofu With Hot Beef Sauce; ONE GREAT DISH A Memorable Main Dish
By Roy Andries de Groot. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). Washington, D.C.: Oct 5, 1980. p. L1 (2 pages)

   6. Chinese Cuisine in a Tudor Setting
By FLORENCE FABRICANT. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Apr 29, 1984. p. LI21 (1 page)

   7. A Touch of Tofu Temptation
By Sharon Farrington Special to The Washington Post. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). Washington, D.C.: Apr 20, 1986. p. K2 (1 page)

The Washington Post (1974-Current file). Washington, D.C.: Sep 21, 1986. p. SM38 (13 pages)

   9. Two to Square Off For the Tofu Trade; The Business of Tofu Tofu
By Carole Sugarman Washington Post Staff Writer. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). Washington, D.C.: Nov 12, 1986. p. E12 (3 pages)

   10. $25 AND UNDER; Dishes for an Emperor at Every Meal Grand Sichuan International Midtown
Eric Asimov. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Sep 13, 2000. p. F9 (1 page)

   11. Sichuan Cooks Relight The Fire; Sichuan Cooks Relight the Fire BRAISED FISH AND NAPA CABBAGE WITN CHILIES TWICE-COOKED PORK
FLORENCE FABRICANT. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Dec 6, 2000. p. F1 (2 pages)

Chinese recipe comes with language class
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Popo and Mapo are both older Chinese women. Popo is an older woman grandma and Mapo is an older woman with an imperfect complexion. Perhaps she is also a grandma, but not necessarily.
It's amazing what you can learn when cruising the Internet in search of stray facts, in this case the origin of the Szechwan dish Mapo Tofu.

According to www.orientalfoodmaster.com, the dish was created by "an old lady who resided in Szechwan a long time ago." Her face had been scarred by the measles, thus people called her "Mapo," (ma meaning pock-marked and po meaning elderly woman).

You also may be interested to know that Mapo Tofu was among dishes prepared by Iron Chef Chen Kenichi in 1999, when the final episodes of "Iron Chef" were filmed. You can read about this in great detail at www.ironchef.com.

The secret ingredient of the match was Tokyo-X, a type of pork developed by crossing three breeds (Beijing black pig, Berkshire and Durock). Chen won the battle.

All of this is apropos of nothing, except that Thelma Lee has asked for the recipe for Mapo Tofu from Ciao Mein Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa.

Mapo Tofu is typically made with a little bit of pork and a lot of tofu, seasoned to heightened awareness with chile sauces -- usually a hot black bean sauce and/or a chile-garlic sauce. These are available at Asian groceries and sometimes in the Asian sections of mainstream supermarkets.

Chef Hing Lim Lee from Ciao Mein prefers Yeo's brand of hot bean sauce, which is sold at 99 Ranch Market. The sauce aisle at 99 is a fascinating place, by the way, full of variety and all kinds of brands. Bring your reading glasses to study the labels; it can be hard to pick out exactly what you're looking for.

Mapo Tofu
2 ounces ground pork hash
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 ounces (1/4 cup) chile-garlic sauce (Yeo's brand preferred)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) hot bean sauce (Yeo's brand preferred)
6 ounces (3/4 cup) chicken broth
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon mushroom-flavored dark soy sauce (Pearl River Bridge brand preferred)
Red chile peppers, to taste
1 block soft tofu, cut in cubes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
Chopped green onions, for garnish

Stir-fry pork in oil in a wok. Add chile-garlic and hot bean sauces, broth, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil.
Add soy sauce and chile peppers. Add tofu. Return to a boil. Cook until tofu is hot in the center. Add sesame oil. Fold in cornstarch mixture to thicken, as needed. Do not overmix the sauce.

Serve over rice and garnish with green onions. Serves 2.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including rice, or sugar or salt to taste : 450 calories, 28 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, greater than 2,300 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 27 g protein

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