This is Uncle Joe’s authentic version of the culture-establishing dish in Sichuan cuisine. This most famous dish in Chinese cooking is truly named in the Chinese language as “Pock Faced Old Woman’s Tofu”, a name that is both irreverent and politically incorrect in English. Its legendary status mandates that it be included in Uncle Joe’s menu; even though it means that Uncle Joe’s must give the dish an edgy new name that is hopefully more politically acceptable. After all, what respectable customer not familiar with the Chinese language will order a dish as unfamiliar as the authentically named “Ma Po tofu”.
The “wife” referred to in its new name is a true person, a Mrs. Chen, who invented the recipe in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in the 1860s. She was the elderly and truly pock-faced wife of Mr. Chen, a small restaurant owner, in that city during the latter years of the Qing Dynasty. This new dish invented by his notoriously unattractive wife and served in this restaurant became an instant hit and spread rapidly throughout China. And this story is not a joke; it is truly well documented. It is unclear whether the dish’s popularity was due to its exquisite taste or due to the shocking facial features of its inventor. Ever since the late part of the nineteenth century, this legendary (Pock-Faced Old Woman’s Tofu) has challenged and stimulated chefs all over China. In a recent documentary on Sichuan cooking broadcasted widely on Chinese television, Chinese chefs overwhelmingly claimed that this dish offers the biggest challenge and is most difficult to make well. Uncle Joe’s is proud to present our proprietary version that we believe is both authentic and best suited for the North American palate.
In fact, this dish is so classical in Sichuan cooking that anyone who can learn to appreciate it can anoint oneself as a true connoisseur of Sichuan cuisine.