I LOVE Sichuan food. The mouth-numbing “ma” spice blended with the chili heat and meaty umami of fermented beans is such an exciting flavor situation. Enter Mapo Tofu- the perfect spicy, warming dish on a cold winter day. Served over rice and with a side of stir fried vegetables, you really can’t go wrong.
This year is the year of the rooster in the Chinese zodiac. More specifically, it is a “fire rooster” year. That just sounds awesome to me. What better way to celebrate a fire rooster year than with some spicy food? I followed a Mapo Tofu recipe from Elaine Luo’s wonderful, authentic recipe website, China Sichuan Food. It was not hard to make and was extremely delicious. I cooked up a batch for a recent “food photo play date” with photographers Amy Roth and Robin Chase and fellow food stylist Sue von Brachel. We gobbled it up along with some stir fried noodles with veggies and pork dumplings, which we also shot that day.
This gorgeous rooster painting is from Li Shoubai, an artist I discovered while living in Shanghai. I just love his use of bold colors and this painting is no exception. Here are some words of wisdom from his recent CNY greeting email. “The Year of the Rooster will be a powerful one, with no middle of the road when it comes to moving forward. This year, impressions count. You’ll want to look your best and be clear on your intentions concerning love, money, and business. Stick to practical and well-proven paths to ensure success, rather than risky ventures. In a Rooster Year, all of the Chinese animals can reap great rewards by tapping into Rooster traits. Loyalty, commitment, hard work, family values, and top-notch appearances are just some of the characteristics that will be rewarded this year.” Sounds good to me!
So, eat up and enjoy some Mapo Tofu this Chinese New Year.