September 23, 2018

#2969: Kiki Mapo Tofu Noodles (台湾KIKI)

#2969: Kiki Mapo Tofu Noodles (台湾KIKI) - Taiwan - The Ramen Rater

Here’s the second fancy boxed variety from Kiki that came out recently. This sounds really good – here’s a little about Mapo Tofu from Wikipedia –

Mapo doufu or Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐) is a popular Chinese dish from Sichuan province. It consists of tofu set in a spicy sauce, typically a thin, oily, and bright red suspension, based on douban 豆瓣 (fermented broadbean and chili paste) and douchi 豆豉 (fermented black beans), along with minced meat, usually pork or beef. Variations exist with other ingredients such as water chestnutsonions, other vegetables, or wood ear fungus.

“Ma” stands for “ma-zi” (Chinese: mázi, 麻子) which means pockmarks. “Po” is the first syllable of “popo” (Chinese: 婆婆, pópo) which means an old woman or grandma. Hence, mapo is an old woman whose face is pockmarked. It is thus sometimes translated as “pockmarked grandma’s beancurd”.

According to Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook: “Eugene Wu, the Librarian of the Harvard Yenching Library, grew up in Chengdu and claims that as a schoolboy he used to eat Pock-Marked Ma’s Bean Curd or mapo doufu, at a restaurant run by the original Pock-Marked Ma herself. One ordered by weight, specifying how many grams of bean curd and meat, and the serving would be weighed out and cooked as the diner watched. It arrived at the table fresh, fragrant, and so spicy hot, or la, that it actually caused sweat to break out.”[1]

Authentic Mapo doufu is powerfully spicy with both conventional “heat” spiciness and the characteristic “mala” (numbing spiciness) flavor of Sichuan cuisine. The feel of the particular dish is often described by cooks using seven specific Chinese adjectives: 麻 (numbing), 辣 (spicy hot), 烫 (hot temperature), 鲜 (fresh), 嫩 (tender and soft), 香 (aromatic), and 酥 (flaky). The authentic form of the dish is increasingly easy to find outside China today, but usually only in Sichuanese restaurants that do not adapt the dish for non-Sichuanese tastes.

The most important and necessary ingredients in the dish that give it the distinctive flavour are chili broad bean paste (salty bean paste) from Sichuan’s Pixian county (郫县豆瓣酱), fermented black beanschili oil, chili flakes of the heaven-facing pepper (朝天辣椒), Sichuan peppercornsgarlicgreen onions, and rice wine.[2] Supplementary ingredients include water or stock, sugar (depending on the saltiness of the bean paste brand used), and starch (if it is desired to thicken the sauce).[3]

That’s pretty interesting about the pock-marked grandmother. Sounds like an interesting dish – at least in the non-Americanized way. I’ve tried the Western way and this one sounds better. Let’s give it a go!

Kiki Mapo Tofu Noodles – Taiwan

#2969: Kiki Mapo Tofu Noodles (台湾KIKI) - Taiwan - The Ramen Rater

Detail of the side panels (click to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, boil 800ml water and put the Mapo Tofu Soup Package into the boiling water for 3 minutes. Cook the noodles in boiling water separately for 4 to 5 minutes with medium heat. Drain. Pour the Mapo Tofu Soup Package into a bowl with the noodles. Finally, stir and enjoy!

#2969: Kiki Mapo Tofu Noodles (台湾KIKI) - Taiwan - The Ramen Rater

The noodles in their own sealed package.

#2969: Kiki Mapo Tofu Noodles (台湾KIKI) - Taiwan - The Ramen Rater

The soup – in a really large pouch!

Finished (click to enlarge). Noodles are just out of sight – excellent chew and gauge. They are a perfect fit for the broth which has strong Sichuan pepper notes and a good oiliness. The tofu pieces are everywhere and of excellent quality. My only complaint is the level of Sichuan pepper flavor. I’ve been running into a lot of things lately that just have too much of it for my liking lately and I’m going to say that if you love Sichuan pepper, this is probably going to be the right amount for you, but unfortunately it drowns out all other flavors. 2.5 out of 5.0 stars.  EAN bar code 4713302682046.

#2969: Kiki Mapo Tofu Noodles (台湾KIKI) - Taiwan - The Ramen Rater

A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai (Big City Food Biographies)

This is the Unboxing Time With The Ramen Rater where I unbox these – and you can really get a feel for how big these box versions are.

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