Summer Mapo Tofu Nachos

This Mapo Tofu twist on Nachos is the perfect way to dress up a summer go to recipe- easy, delicious, and with the help of our parchment, a cinch to clean up.  Keep this on rotation for those long summer days where your too exhausted ( and starving!) to do much else besides toss a bunch of fresh ingredients together, pop it in the oven, and sit down to eat....


Makes 4 servings

For the Mapo Tofu Sauce

  • 1(14- or 16-ounce) package silken tofu
  • 1½ teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • tbsp canola oil
  • 8 oz ground beef, pork, or turkey ( 80 or 85 percent lean),
  • 2½ to 3 tbsp doubanjiang (fermented chile bean sauce or paste)
  • 1tbsp douchi (fermented black beans, optional)
  • 1tsp fresh ginger (minced)
  • ½ tsp red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1large scallion, sliced on slanted cut into 2-inch-long pieces
  • 1tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

For the Nachos

  • 5 to 6 oz of corn tortilla chips of your choice 
  • medium scallions, sliced into slanted, ¾-inch-long pieces
  • oz shredded Oaxacan, Monterey Jack or other mild-flavored melty cheese 
  • ⅓ C sliced or chopped pitted olives of your choice
  • whole pickled jalapeños, sliced (optional)
  • ⅓ C  chopped cilantro (optional)

Step 1
Prepare the mapo tofu sauce: Cut drained tofu into large chunks, then use a stand blender or immersion blender to whirl the tofu into a smoothie-like consistency.

Step 2
In a medium pot over medium heat, toast the Sichuan peppercorns for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant and slightly darkened.  Let cool peppercorns cool, then grind with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Step 3
Prepare the remaining sauce ingredients and set near the stove.

Step 4
Warm the oil in the pan over high heat. When shimmering, add the meat. Stir and break the meat into crumbly pieces, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2½ tablespoons doubanjiang, the douchi (if using), ginger, and red-pepper flakes (if using). Cook about 2 more minutes, stirring constantly so as not to burn, until the mixture is a rich, reddish brown.

Step 5
Reduce the heat to medium-low, then stir in the soy sauce and sugar. Gently add  the blended tofu as well. Stir to combine well, partially cover, and bring to simmer. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Step 6
Season to taste adding spice or salt as needed.

Step 7
Add in the chopped scallion and the cornstarch slurry , stirring until thickened. Turn off the heat.  If you wish to add more heat, stir in half the crushed Sichuan peppercorns.

Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to deepen flavor before using; a little lingering orange oil may be noticed.

This recipe makes about 2½ cups. You will only need half of this amount for the recipe and can save the second half for another batch of nachos ( let cool completely and store in airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze).

Step 8
Prepare the nachos: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking panwith parchment, leaving a little overhang on two sides so you may easily transfer the nachos later. Arrange half of the chips on the pan, spreading them across the pan. Use a spoon to spread ½ cup mapo tofu sauce onto the chips. Sprinkle with half the portion of scallions, cheese, and (if desired) the remaining Sichuan peppercorns. Repeat this layering with the remaining chips, mapo tofu sauce, the remaining scallions, cheese and peppercorns.

Step 9
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and begins to sizzle. Remove the pan from the oven, lift the parchment paper to remove the nachos from the pan, and use a spatula to carefully transfer the nachos to a platter. Top with any combination of olives, pickled jalapeños and cilantro, as desired.

Never boil a vegetable again...