Sichuan Braised Tofu with Ground Meat (Mapo Tofu)

You don't have to tell me, I already know what you are thinking. "Tofu?" You may even be making the same squished up face Jim made when I said to him what I had planned for dinner.

If you can get past the soft texture of the tofu in this stew, and the scavenger hunt it takes to find a few ingredients, you will be rewarded with bold flavor, balanced spiciness and an adventurous meal that reheats well the next day for lunch.

This fiery Sichuan classic was not hard to replicate in my kitchen. The most challenging part was finding the broad-bean chili paste, fermented black beans, and Sichuan peppercorns, you know the ones that make your mouth numb? If you live close to a large Asian Supermarket, then you are golden. I could not find the ingredients on my own, but a helpful employee took me straight to all three items on my list.