Sichuan Bolognese

I first saw a Sichuan bolognese at a place called Best Little Restaurant in Boston's Chinatown. I really wanted to order it but the person I was dining with didn't want to burn their face off, and the staff said it was pretty spicy, so we passed on the dish. I have been craving it ever since but haven't had a chance to go back, so I decided to make it at home the way I thought it might be, or maybe that I wanted it to be. And "the way I wanted it to be" was basically a mapo tofu with tomatoes and pasta. I still have plans to go back and check the dish out, but this version was amazing to satisfy my craving before I can actually make it back in.
The veggies in bolognese are underrated in the dish, I used what I would normally use but with the addition of cabbage. I seared off the beef first, then removed it from the pan and added the veggies. After they cooked a bit, some garlic, ginger, and chiles hit the pot. Add the meat back in, and some soy sauce, bean paste, and xiaoxing wine. Oh, and Sichuan peppercorns of course. Lots of Sichuan peppercorns. A can of tomatoes cause it's bolognese after all. Tofu goes in after it cooks like an hour. Add the pasta right to the pot to really absorb the flavors. This dish is soooooo good. I couldn't stop eating! It's super spicy, but it has the perfect lingering continual spice and not the kind that totally sets your mouth on fire at first contact. The tomatoes are a nice touch and add a new dimension to the mapo tofu style sauce.

Sichuan Bolognese

  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan Peppercorns whole
  • 1/2 cup Diced Onion
  • 1/2 cup Diced Carrot
  • 1/2 cup Diced Celery
  • 1/2 cup Diced Cabbage
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 inch Ginger minced
  • 5 Thai Chiles sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan Peppercorns ground
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Fermented Bean Paste
  • 1/4 cup Xiaoxing Wine
  • 1 14 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 7 ounces Tofu diced
  • 1 pound Pasta / Noodles preferably a thicker noodle like fettuccine or tagliatelle
  • scallions and more chopped chiles for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place a large heavy bottom pan over high heat. Add in a little vegetable oil. Add in the beef and sear to brown and cook through, making sure to get good color on the meat. Remove from pan.
  2. Add in the peppercorns and a little extra oil if needed. Cook about 2 minutes to brown the peppercorns and infuse the oil. Remove the peppercorns from the pot, keeping the oil in.
  3. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and cabbage to the pot and cook about 10 minutes until lightly starting to brown.
  4. Add in the garlic, ginger, and chiles and cook 3 minutes.
  5. Add in the ground sichuan pepper and stir to combine.
  6. Add in the soy sauce, bean paste, and wine and cook 5 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Next add the tomatoes, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring often.
  8. Finally add the chicken stock and reduce heat to maintain a light simmer.
  9. Meanwhile bring salted pasta water to a boil. After the meat mixture has reduced and thickened, (maybe like 45 minutes later) add in the tofu and stir well. The tofu should crumble into small tofu balls.
  10. Drop the pasta and cook till al dente.
  11. Add the pasta directly to the pan with the sauce along with some of the cooking liquid and stir well.
  12. Serve and top with scallions and chiles.