Meatless Vegetarian Mapo Tofu

Recently, there came an opportunity* to try out Meatless Farms mince/ grounds made essentially from pea/soy proteins which is similar to plant-based meat made by market leaders Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

It has been a long time since I made Mapo Tofu; yet today, seeking unfamiliar "grounds" (pun intended) with this new ingredient: meatless mince/grounds and roping in a long forgotten dish Mapo Tofu, making Meatless Vegetarian Mapo Tofu, essentially plant-based yet high in protein.


Start by frying/pre-cooking the mince with garlic and onions - this "fried" mince serves as "blank canvas" for other stir-fries too, not just Mapo Tofu. 

As usual, I opted for fuss-free method of oven-cooking the mince with garlic and onions (to mimic the wok-flavors of garlic, onion and ground meat sizzling in the hot wok) instead of pan-frying.

Certainly, it might be faster to cook this dish over the stove; but for personal reasons, it was easier to use oven + rice cooker as I can multi-task with other work while the oven and rice cooker did the cooking. Standing behind the stove, eye-balling the cooking in the pan is totally a different time-game compared to this relatively "switch-off' mode of letting the oven and rice-cooker do the work. So, for those in a similar situation, this method might work to your benefit.


Meatless Vegetarian Mapo Tofu
Ingredients:
8-oz pack of meatless mince/ground
Bunch of green onions, chopped, yielding about 1-2 cups of chopped green onions
2tbsp minced garlic
10-15 oz firm tofu, slice to bite-size cubes
1 tsp miso, dissolved in 1/2 cup water (Note: This is a good alternative/substitute for those who find it difficult to get Chinese-style bean paste Dou Ban Jiang typically used in Mapo Tofu. Miso, also a bean-based product, imparts the necessary bean flavors and depth). Avoid cooking miso in continuous high heat since miso being fermented food, contains good active cultures of bacteria/ probiotics that might possibly be destroyed under high heat.
1 tbsp chili paste (current favorite is Trader Joe’s Italian “Bomba” Hot Pepper Sauce made from crushed fermented Calabrian chilis)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Cooked edamame (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven 375F. Spread out meatless mince on baking/cooking tray, add garlic, onions, drizzle a little cooking oil and cook in oven till mince is cooked/"caramelized" in about 20-30mins. Add "pre-fried" mince, tofu, chili into rice-cooker and cook for 10-15mins, then slowly add miso into the cooked mixture, drizzle sesame oil, and let mixture sit/simmer in the rice cooker for few minutes, allow all flavors to combine and meld. (Note: Alternatively, if cooking over the stove, pan-fry mince, garlic, onion in pot/pan for a few minutes to cook through the mince, add tofu, chili paste, gently toss to combine all the ingredients, then add miso in the last 1-2 minutes, with drizzle of sesame oil to finish if off).


*Thank you to the Social Nature community for opportunity to try this product for free. No compensation was received for this review. Review is based on opinion of my own.