Sunday, August 15, 2021



Servings: 4
Prep time: 2 hours
Total time: 3 weeks


for the fermented chile paste:
8 ounces|225 grams red Fresno chiles, stems trimmed, halved 
8 ounces|225 grams red bell peppers, stems trimmed, halved 
kosher salt 

for the spicy beef chile oil:
1 cup|200 grams beef tallow or rendered beef fat 
⅓ cup|60 grams minced garlic 
¼ cup|25 grams Chinese chile flakes 
½ teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns 

for the mapo powder:
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon green peppercorns
1 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns

 for the mapo doufu:
1 tablespoon fermented black beans
2 tablespoons Fermented Chile Paste
1 tablespoon red miso paste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoons water, plus ½ cup|120ml
one (16-ounce|450 gram) block silken doufu
1 tablespoons tallow or rendered beef fat
6 ounces|170 grams small-diced dry-aged fatty steak, such as rib-eye
kosher salt
2 tablespoons Spicy Beef Chile Oil, at room temperature
⅓ cup|25 grams thinly sliced (crosswise) green onions
steamed rice, for serving 


  1. Make the fermented chile paste: Remove and discard some or all of the chiles’ seeds to adjust the heat of the resulting sauce as desired. Remove all the seeds from the bell peppers. Roughly chop the chiles and bell peppers, put them in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 4 tsp salt. Massage the salt into the chiles and peppers (you may want to wear gloves) until they feel tender and have released most of their juices, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Tightly pack the chiles and bell peppers with their juices into a nonreactive 1-pint container. If they are not completely submerged, make a 4 percent brine by whisking ½ cup|120 ml water with 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt and add what you need. 
  3. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the chiles and peppers and secure with a lid or a cloth and rubber band. Let ferment at cool room temperature (65° to 75°F) out of direct sunlight for 3 weeks to 1 month. Burp regularly. Once it has developed a fruity, fiery flavor, process in a blender into a paste. Transfer the chile paste to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  4. Make the spicy beef chile oil: In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the tallow until melted. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and starting to turn light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chile flakes and peppercorns and continue to cook until the garlic is golden brown and very fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to cool. Transfer the chile oil to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer up to 3 months.
  5. Make the mapo powder: Warm a wok or a small frying pan over high heat. Add all the peppercorns and toast, tossing frequently, until fragrant and starting to make popping sounds, about 2 minutes. Immediately transfer to a dish and let cool. Smash the peppercorns in a mortar with a pestle or grind with a spice grinder into a very fine powder. Transfer to an airtight container and store at cool room temperature for up to 3 months.
  6. Make the mapo doufu: Place the fermented black beans in a medium bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 10 minutes and then drain.
  7. In a small bowl, stir together the fermented black beans, chile paste, miso paste, garlic, and sugar. In a separate small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water to make a slurry.
  8. Prepare a steamer in a wok or a large, lidded pot, and add just enough water to reach the bottom rim of the steamer. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Drain the doufu and place in a shallow heatproof bowl or pie plate. Place the dish of doufu in the steamer, cover, and steam until warmed through, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave in the steamer to keep warm.
  9. Warm a wok or a large frying pan over high heat. Add the tallow and let it melt. Add the steak in a single layer and season generously with salt. Sear until well browned on the bottom, about 1 ½ minutes. Add the black bean mixture and toss to coat the beef. Add the remaining ½ cup|120 ml water and toss constantly to make sure the miso is very well distributed. Stir the cornstarch slurry again, add to the pan, and toss until the sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. Add the chile oil and toss until well combined. Immediately remove the pan from the heat.
  10. Remove the doufu dish from the steamer and carefully pour off any accumulated liquid. Pour the mapo sauce over the doufu, sift some mapo powder over the top, and sprinkle with the green onions. Serve hot with plenty of rice.

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