Recipes

Mapo Tofu

January 27, 2020

My husband’s favorite and most requested Chinese dish from me is hands down my take on the traditional mapo tofu. This is definitely a childhood dish of mine and is a quick and simple weeknight dinner staple!

It’s interesting that there are so many versions of this dish. When I tried making this myself, I looked up some recipes online as a refresher. However, I quickly noticed that almost every recipe had very different ingredients. So this is my take on mapo tofu, influenced by my parents and husband. Hope you try this recipe and love it as much as we do!

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The best thing about this dish is that it requires very few items and many are staple ingredients that you might already have on hand. For me, the confusing part about cooking Chinese dishes is not knowing if certain ingredients listed are necessary to achieve certain flavors. I’ll try to go into that below, but if you’d like to skip straight down to the condensed recipe, please scroll to the bottom of this post!

Ingredients:

  • Tofu: I personally don’t prefer one brand over another, but I usually use silken or soft firmness tofu. I’ve found that certain brands break apart more than others. My favorite silken tofu brand so far is Wo Chong because it’s still silky smooth and soft, but it’s a little more forgiving when you stir the pot (still be careful stirring though!). If you prefer medium or hard firmness tofu, go ahead and use that!
  • Ground pork: Definitely recommend using pork as other ground meats don’t provide the same flavor. However, if you’d like to substitute something healthier, ground chicken or turkey would work as well.
  • Hot bean paste: I highly recommend the Har Har brand! I’ve tried a few different brands and they all taste a little different. This one is my favorite so far, but if there’s one you like more, then go with that one. Honestly, it just comes down to personal preference.
  • Shaoxing wine and soy sauce: Soy sauce and Shaoxing wine will add flavor depth to the sauce. Shaoxing wine is a staple in a lot of Chinese dishes, but I noticed it’s not something everyone always has on hand. You can omit this from the recipe and it will still taste great, but it definitely adds a little bit of flavor depth to the dish.
  • Corn starch: At the end of the recipe, corn starch is used to thicken the sauce, which makes it a little more similar to the sauce consistency of mapo tofu from Chinese restaurants. This can be omitted if you don’t have any corn starch or if you prefer a thinner sauce.
  • Oils: Any cooking oil that is mild in flavor (olive, avocado, etc.) can be used to saute the garlic and brown the meat. A little sesame oil helps to add flavor depth to the sauce but is completely optional.
  • Garlic: For flavor.
  • Green onions: For flavor, color, and garnish.
  • Sichuan peppercorns: This is what gives it the traditional “mala” (numbing spicy) flavor! If you’re not used to or don’t enjoy as much of the numbing feeling, I suggest using 1 tsp. My family loves the numbing so we use 2 tsp!
  • Chili peppers: I like added 2 cut up dried red chilis to make it even spicier, but this is completely optional.

Directions:

The steps to make mapo tofu are simple. Start by heating up enough oil in a pan to coat the bottom (~4 tbsp) on medium heat and sauteing the crushed peppercorns and chopped dried chilies until the oil is aromatic and smells spicy (~1 minute). Then, add in and saute the minced garlic for ~1 minute (careful not to burn it!). After, add in and brown up the ground pork while breaking it up into small pieces with your spatula.

Add in the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce and saute for 1 minute to get rid of the sharp alcohol flavor. Then add in the hot bean sauce and sesame oil (optional).

Once everything is hot and combined, add in the corn starch and water mixture to thicken the sauce.

Combine the tofu and green onion to the meat mixture. Stir carefully to not break up the tofu into tiny pieces!

Cook until the pot is bubbling. Top with scallions and serve hot over a bowl of rice!

Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

 


Tiffany AngelaAuthorTiffany AngelaCategoryChineseDifficultyBeginner


This traditional mapo tofu recipe is a quick and easy dish that'll warm you up from the inside (and numb your mouth). Serve with rice and you've got dinner ready in under 30 minutes!

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time15 minsCook Time15 minsTotal Time30 mins


Ingredients
 4 tbsp cooking oil to generously coat pan (olive, avocado, etc.)
 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, ground (can use 1-2 tsp!)
 4 dried red chilis, roughly chopped
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 ½ lb ground pork
 1 container (14 oz) silken or soft tofu, cubed
 ½ tsp Shaoxing wine
 ½ tsp soy sauce
 1 tsp sesame oil
 3 tbsp hot bean sauce
 2 tsp corn starch
 ½ cup water
 4 stalks of green onions, sliced

Directions
1

Heat up the oil in a pan on medium heat and saute the ground Sichuan peppercorn and chopped dried red chilis until the oil smells aromatic and spicy (~1 minute). Add the chopped garlic into the oil until fragrant (~1 minute), careful not to burn the garlic. Then, add the ground pork. Break the pork up with your spatula and cook until no longer pink.

2

Add in the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce. Saute for around 1 minute, then add in the hot bean sauce and sesame oil. In a separate bowl, add the water to the corn starch and mix until there are no more chunks and is uniform. Once the meat mixture in the pot is bubbling, add in the corn starch mixture and stir.

3

Add in the cubed tofu and green onions (reserve some for garnish). Combine everything, but stir slowly and carefully to not break up the tofu into tiny pieces.

4

Once the entire dish is boiling, it is ready to top with the reserved green onion and serve hot over a bowl of rice!

Ingredients

Ingredients
 4 tbsp cooking oil to generously coat pan (olive, avocado, etc.)
 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, ground (can use 1-2 tsp!)
 4 dried red chilis, roughly chopped
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 ½ lb ground pork
 1 container (14 oz) silken or soft tofu, cubed
 ½ tsp Shaoxing wine
 ½ tsp soy sauce
 1 tsp sesame oil
 3 tbsp hot bean sauce
 2 tsp corn starch
 ½ cup water
 4 stalks of green onions, sliced

Directions

Directions
1

Heat up the oil in a pan on medium heat and saute the ground Sichuan peppercorn and chopped dried red chilis until the oil smells aromatic and spicy (~1 minute). Add the chopped garlic into the oil until fragrant (~1 minute), careful not to burn the garlic. Then, add the ground pork. Break the pork up with your spatula and cook until no longer pink.

2

Add in the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce. Saute for around 1 minute, then add in the hot bean sauce and sesame oil. In a separate bowl, add the water to the corn starch and mix until there are no more chunks and is uniform. Once the meat mixture in the pot is bubbling, add in the corn starch mixture and stir.

3

Add in the cubed tofu and green onions (reserve some for garnish). Combine everything, but stir slowly and carefully to not break up the tofu into tiny pieces.

4

Once the entire dish is boiling, it is ready to top with the reserved green onion and serve hot over a bowl of rice!

Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

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