Give Cooked Beans the Mapo Tofu Treatment


Photo Credit:Serious Eats

A quick-cooking riff on mapo tofu that’s perfect for using up cannellini from a big batch of cooked dry beans.

(such as cannellini or Great Northern) with cooking liquid (see note)
1 teaspoon (2g) Sichuan peppercorns, finely ground (see note)
In a large saucepan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or wok spatula, until meat is cooked through and just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a small bowl or plate and set aside.
Lower heat to medium, add remaining 3 tablespoons (45ml) oil to now-empty saucepan or wok, and heat until shimmering. Add doubanjiang and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add ground chiles and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is aromatic and chiles have stained the oil dark red, about 30 seconds. Transfer 2 tablespoons (30ml) chile-oil mixture to a small heatproof ramekin or bowl and set aside.
Add garlic, ginger, and scallion or ramp whites and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in water, beans and their cooking liquid, and cooked meat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a steady but gentle simmer and cook until mixture is thickened slightly and heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add scallion or ramp greens, stir to incorporate, and cook until just softened, about 30 seconds.
Divide stew between individual serving bowls, sprinkle with ground Sichuan peppercorns, and serve, passing reserved chile oil for drizzling at the table.
Special equipment
or wok
Doubanjiang can also be labeled as “toban djan” or “chile bean paste.” It can be found at Chinese markets, some well-stocked grocery stores, and online (we’re big fans of the Sichuan ingredients sold by The Mala Market, but you can also buy it on Amazon).

Look for Pixian doubanjiang. Lee Kum Kee brand is more widely available at supermarkets.
Like doubanjiang, dried Chinese chiles can be found at Chinese markets or online. These chiles are on the milder side. If you can’t source them, you can substitute with other types of dried ground chiles (understanding that the flavor won’t be exactly the same and that you may need to adjust quantities due to variance in spiciness). Mild, fruity dried ground chiles like Korean
make for a better substitute than something like cayenne.
This recipe was tested with low-sodium canned white beans, and unfortunately they do not make an adequate substitute for cooked dried beans in this dish, even when the water in the recipe is substituted with a more flavorful liquid like chicken or vegetable stock. The superior flavor of dried beans and their cooking liquid, and the thickening power of the bean cooking liquid are essential to this recipe. The cooked beans are not drained of their cooking liquid, so the bean cooking liquid is incorporated into the measurement of 2 cups (565g) of cooked beans.
Sichuan peppercorns are not related to black pepper or chiles, but are dried husks that surround the seeds of a shrub from the citrus family. They can be found at Chinese markets or online. Sichuan peppercorns should have a heady, fruity aroma, and should give your mouth a buzzing, tingly sensation when you chew on them.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Mapo-style white beans and the reserved chile oil can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 3 days.
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