Mapo tofu gnocchi

So this is a dish I made a while back for the Plant Your Vote challenge in the 2020 election. The concept was to post a plant-based dish, and this mapo tofu gnocchi dish is 100% vegan. I wanted to post it now, since Chinese New Years is coming up, and I wanted to switch up the cute, pink, and romantic with something Chinese. For the dish, we have tofu gnocchi with a mapo tofu sauce and a scallion salad. For the sauce, we are using seitan, which is a gluten protein, in place of the ground meat. It is relatively simple to make ingredient-wise, but it is a laborious process. The sauce itself is made with tons of Chinese aromatics and spices, as well as dobujiang, which is a fermented chili paste that gives the mapo tofu its distinct spicy flavor. The gnocchi themselves were something I have made before, so if you have made that recipe prior to reading this one, you’ll already have some practice on the hardest part of a relatively simple recipe! We are pairing this with the scallion salad, since traditional mapo tofu is topped with scallions, and this is my fresher take on that, just to give the scallion a little more body. We’re using radishes, celery, and black vinegar to add in some crunchy and sourness to contrast the really spicy sauce that the gnocchi is being served in. I hope you all have a wonderful Chinese New Years for those of you who celebrate it, and I know I will while I’m making this dish!

For the seitan:
1 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce
1/2 cup water

Mix the ingredients to form a dough and knead for about 15 minutes. I highly recommend using a stand mixer for this. Allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes before rinsing vigorously until hot water until you are left with a small spongy ball, and the water washing off of the seitan runs completely clear. Tear into smaller pieces.

For the mapo tofu sauce:
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 Thai chilis, de-seeded and minced
3 tablespoons dried chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
canola oil
2 tablespoons fermented chili paste (doubanjiang)
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock

Start by mincing the garlic and shallot with chilies and ginger, and then toss those aromatics with the spices and sesame oil. Heat up a pan with a thin layer of canola oil, and then start by sweating out the spiced garlic, shallot, and chilies. Stir constantly over low heat until the shallots turn translucent. Then toss in your seitan and allow that to sit in the oil on low heat until it begins to puff up. Then stir in your fermented chili paste, salt, mushroom soy sauce, and chicken stock. Allow this to simmer down on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it becomes a thick, glossy sauce.

For the gnocchi:
485g soft tofu
5g salt
250g all-purpose flour

Whip your tofu until it is creamy and smooth. Fold into that the other ingredients. Depending on how wet the mixture is, either shape it by hand into 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch pieces, or transfer the dough into a lightly oiled piping bag. Boil in heavily salted water for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the gnocchi begin to float to the surface. Once so, finish the gnocchi by tossing into the sauce.

For the salad:
1 scallion
2 stems of Chinese celery
1 radish
10 cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons black vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
a pinch of salt

Slice the vegetables very thinly, then toss with the other ingredients to finish.

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