Mapo Tofu

Learn how to make Chinese mapo tofu at home with this simple recipe that tastes better than anything you’ll find in a restaurant.

WHAT DOES MAPO TOFU TASTE LIKE?

A traditional Szechuan meal, Mapo Tofu, is made with tofu wrapped in minced beef and spices. It goes nicely with rice and, given how spicy it can get, may even be required.

The old lady who created this dish inspired the food’s moniker, which translates to “pockmarked old lady tofu.” The more you learn!

Chinese eateries have seen an increase in demand for takeaway orders. However, did you know that it is pretty simple to manufacture your own?

CHINESE MAPO TOFU FROM SCRATCH

My Mapo Tofu dish was recently requested by a coworker. He’s recently started cooking and wanted to give it a whirl in the comfort of his own kitchen.

As soon as we had a chance to talk, I walked him through the recipe’s steps. The concept of manufacturing his own tofu from scratch was discarded.

He said it was challenging and time-consuming. Mapo Tofu mix was all he had on hand.

HOW HARD IS IT TO MAKE?

Making Mapo Tofu at home doesn’t seem that difficult. Do novice home cooks find the lengthy ingredient list intimidating? I pondered this question for a moment. Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

With so much mala/numbing spiciness in this Szechuan tofu, it’s not easy to keep it authentic without sacrificing the flavor.

AUTHENTIC MAPO TOFU

My Mapo Tofu recipe came from a friend in Sichuan, where this well-known Chinese dish was first created. Because my friend’s mother attended the Sichuan Culinary Institute in Chengdu for the most authentic Mapo Tofu, this is the best recipe out there. Inflammatory and lip-smackingly spicy, the Mapo Tofu dish is not for the faint-hearted. Think Angelina Jolie’s lips after eating this!

What is the average number of calories in one serving?

  • Each serving of this recipe contains only 266 calories.

With this recipe, what are its complementary dishes?

I’ve compiled a collection of recipes that are both healthy and quick enough to prepare on a weeknight.

  • RESTAURANT-STYLE CHINESE GREENS WITH OYSTER SAUCE
  • SZECHUAN/SICHUAN ROASTED CHICKEN
  • BAKED HOISIN CHICKEN
  • SICHUAN (SZECHUAN) COLD NOODLES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp. fermented black beans (rinsed and pounded)
  • 2 stalks of chopped leeks or scallions, chopped into 1 or 2-inch length
  • 1/4 lb. ground pork
  • 3 tbsp. Sichuan spicy bean paste 辣豆瓣酱
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons chili oil
  • 1 silken block tofu
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and ground to powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Drain the water from the tofu, then cut it into tiny pieces. A wok should be heated up and added cooking oil and chili oil. Grind the pork and add to the pan together with the garlic and spicy bean paste. Cook until the pork is halfway done. Then, add chili powder, soy sauce, fermented black beans, and stir-fry until fragrant. Lower the heat for around 3-5 minutes and let the sauce thicken. Add the roasted Sichuan peppercorn powder and the scallions, and mix well to combine flavors before serving. Stirring and blending should be done with care. Serve immediately from the prepared dish.

NOTES

  • This meal can be made milder by reducing the amount of roasted Sichuan peppercorn powder, chili powder, and chili oil used in the recipe. The flavors can be altered to suit your taste buds. This dish is referred to as “Pock-Marked Old Lady Tofu” (I know, I know). You may learn more about this dish’s origins here. There is less of a kick to American-style Ma Po Tofu than you might find at Chinese restaurants around the country.
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