Growing up, a visit to a Chinese restaurant is often not complete without an order of mapo tofu, one of my dad's favorites. Mapo tofu, being a Sichuan dish, is typically spicy and I remember we would order it with instructions to make it "mild." When the dish arrived, my dad would add chili peppers to his portion and work up a good sweat eating. Now I have learned to like the spiciness of a good mapo tofu dish but my two kids are too small to tolerate even a little spice. And so I cook this un-mapo tofu, a kid-friendly version that's still tasty but without the characteristic red hot chilies.
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 5 stalks spring onions, chopped, save some for garnish
2 T sesame oil
100 g ground pork
1 t chicken stock granules
1 T sake
2 T mirin
1 T soy sauce
1 T oyster sauce
1 block tofu, sliced into cubes (I like using soft tofu)
1 T katakuriko or corn starch dissolved in 2 T water (this is your thickener)
Saute the minced garlic and chopped spring onions in the sesame oil. Add the ground pork and cook until done. In a small bowl, mix the next 5 ingredients (you can quickly do this while the pork is cooking) and pour it into the pan. Mix to heat through and add water if necessary. Next toss in the cubed tofu and be careful as you work to coat it with the sauce. Thicken the sauce with the katakuriko or corn starch dissolved in water. Remove from heat and top with spring onions.