How to Make Mapo Tofu
Mapo tofu, which is sometimes written mapo doufu, is a delicious Chinese recipe from the Sichuan province in China. It is comprised of tofu in a reddish, spicy bean and chili based sauce. The tofu is usually cooked with ground meat, either beef or pork, along with fermented beans. There are variations of course, and everyone has their own way of making it. Discover how to make mapo tofu and you will fall in love with this dish!
Why is Mapo Tofu Called That?
So how did mapo tofu get its name? Well the ‘ma’ refers to ‘mazi’ which is pockmarks, and the ‘pa’ refers to ‘popo’ meaning old woman or grandmother. So interestingly mapo tofu means pockmarked grandmother or, better, pockmarked grandmother’s beancurd. This presumably refers to the old lady who first invented the dish. Learning how to make mapo tofu means you can relay this interesting history at the dinner table.
The Flavors of Mapo Tofu
This recipe is traditionally fiery, as many Sichuan dishes are, and this dish in particular is described using 7 Chinese adjectives, namely numbing, hot temperatures, spicy hot, fresh, soft and tender, flake, and aromatic.
The most important ingredients are the beancurd (tofu), salty bean paste or chili broad bean paste, fermented black beans, chili oil, garlic, green onions, rice wine, Sichuan peppercorns, and chili flakes. There might also be some starch to thicken up the sauce and often some kind of ground meat.
Mapo Tofu Outside China
You can find mapo tofu recipes outside of China, especially in Korea and Japan where the spices are toned down a lot to offer a medium heat instead of a really fiery one. The dish is often made meatless in American restaurants so vegetarians will be drawn to it.
If it’s made vegetarian it’s often known as Mala Tofu. In the US it comes with a thick sweet-sour sauce without the meat and most of the spice but with some added vegetables. This is quite far from the original recipe and, in my opinion, nowhere near as good!
Mapo Tofu Variations You Might Like
I like to cook some bok choy with mine, adding ginger and garlic as well as a little chicken broth, but you can steam or saute any veggies you like to go on the side. Consider some noodles or white rice too. When I first learned how to make mapo tofu I liked to experiment with it.
- 6 oz (170g) ground pork (pork mince)
- 2 teaspoons chili bean paste
- 14 oz (400g) silken tofu, drained and cut into ¾ inch (2 cm) cubes
- ½ cup (125ml) low sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 4 minced green onions (spring onions, scallions) - white part only
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fermented black beans (or black bean paste)
- ½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, black seeds removed before grinding (optional)
- Minced green part of green onion, for garnish
- Put the chicken stock in a bowl with the cornstarch, sugar and soy sauce, and stir.
- Heat a wok until hot, then add the sesame oil, ginger, garlic and green onions.
- Stir-fry until fragrant, then add the black beans and Sichuan pepper (if using) and keep stir-frying.
- Add the meat and break it up using a spatula; cook it until browned.
- Next add the fermented beans or bean paste.
- Add the tofu and toss to mix.
- Do not stir it else it will break up - you need to be careful with silken tofu.
- Pour the stock mixture over the tofu and pork, toss to coat and then boil until the sauce is thick.
- Serve the mapo tofu garnished with the green parts of the green onions.
- You can serve it with hot boiled rice and perhaps some steamed bok choy or similar.
Some More Hot Content For You
- Easy Diabetic Chili RecipeI love chili con carne and find myself making it often, either as a tasty treat for myself or as a shared meal for my husband and I. I usually make a big batch of it so I can enjoy it for lunch the next day, and the next! My husband is diabetic, so I needed to find a tasty low carb diabetic chili recipe which would taste good and look appetizing, and that is when I came up with this one. The ingredients are nutritious and the flavor in this diabetic chili recipe is wonderful. You can tweak this diabetic chili recipe to your heart’s content, swapping the ground beef for chicken or pork, adding more spice (or less!) or swapping the .....
- Delicious Curried Deviled EggsDeviled eggs make a nice dish before any main course or you can serve them at a buffet or party. Curried deviled eggs are especially nice and the curry flavor goes really well with the egg taste. You can add a bit of sweet relish or minced sun-dried tomatoes too if you want to. You might also want to add a couple of drops of Tabasco sauce or a bit of Dijon mustard to spice this deviled eggs recipe up. If you prefer plain deviled eggs, just leave out the curry powder and green onions. Most people will prefer the eggs slightly curried though. More Tips for Curried Deviled Eggs If you don’t have a piping bag to pipe the egg yolk filling .....
- Pork and Beef Crackslaw with Shredded VeggiesThis pork and beef crackslaw recipe is made using a combination of pork and beef. Although you can make crackslaw with any kind of ground meat (including poultry if you wish) I find that combining pork with beef gives a pleasing result. The pork is juicy and the beef has its own distinctive flavor. They just combine well, especially when making something like pork and beef crackslaw. Here in Holland you can’t buy ground pork by itself (at least not in my local store) which is why I use the half and half mixture quite a lot. Yes I could grind my own pork but I haven’t yet done that. I do have a meat grinder attachment on my food .....
- What is Tofu Exactly?Tofu is an ingredient which is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks. It is used in various East and Southeast Asian cuisines. Tofu can be fresh or processed, and its subtle flavor suits a variety of savory and sweet recipes. It is often marinated or seasoned before use. If you’re wondering what is tofu exactly, you might also be interested in its history. Tofu dates back nearly 2000 years to ancient China and during the Nara period its production technique was introduced into Korea and Japan. Tofu is low in calories, featuring a lot of protein but not much fat. It is also high in iron and .....
- How to Cook Lobster TailsLobster tails make a real treat and, when cooked right, you can expect a succulent, tasty result with plenty of ocean flavor. Learning how to cook lobster tails is straightforward and the results are impressive. These little delicacies might not be the cheapest type of seafood in the store (far from it, usually) but once it in a while it is nice to spoil yourself to a lobster tails recipe. Buying the tails is cheaper than buying a whole lobster, and they’re easier to prepare and eat too. I spotted some of these on sale just after Christmas. Of course we had a full-to-bursting refrigerator then (who doesn’t?) but they were frozen, .....
- Corned Beef Hash with a TwistThis corned beef hash recipe is fantastic and it is versatile enough to be breakfast, brunch, lunch, or just a comfort food snack if you are in the mood for it. The twist is the cream in the recipe and even though that might sound like an odd ingredient for corned beef hash it totally transforms it from good to great, so give this recipe a try and this might be how you make your corned beef hash from now on. As well as the potatoes and corned beef you will need butter and cream to add a luxurious mouth feel, onion and bell pepper to add nutrients, color and crunch, and some eggs if you wish to garnish your corned beef hash with fried eggs .....
- 100 Calorie Vegetable SoupI love making this 100 calorie vegetable soup but I am quite lazy sometimes! Even though I will go to the trouble of roasting pumpkin to make pumpkin soup or caramelizing onion for French onion soup, other times I like to toss the ingredients into a pot. Then I forget about it for an hour, then puree the results, and actually that’s how you end up with a really good vegetable soup recipe sometimes! If you’re new to making soup (or looking for some vegetable soup ideas) read on for a very easy recipe for 100 calorie vegetable soup. I’d like to share my 100 calorie vegetable soup recipe with you because I’ve made it a .....
- Seafood Soup RecipeThis seafood soup recipe is made from scratch, so you will get all that amazing seafood flavour you love so much. Whether you are using lobster, crab, prawns or a mixture, the flavor is amazing. The better the seafood broth you use in this seafood soup recipe, the better it is going to taste. Whenever you are basing a whole recipe on a broth you need to make sure you use something of quality. It is so important. Great Ingredients Blend Together There are quite a few different ingredients in this seafood soup recipe but use them all and you will be so glad you did. The most important ingredients are the seafood and whatever you use to make .....
- Asian Meatballs with Sweet Chili SauceThis is a wonderful recipe and it is also low in carbs. I love this Asian meatballs with sweet chili sauce recipe because I never get tired of the taste. I used to own the site Crackslaw.com where you could find out how to make all kinds of crack slaw recipes, something else that offers a wonderful Asian flavor. I’ve since moved them all on to this blog, so look at our low carb category and you will find plenty more ideas. Anyway, back to the Asian meatballs with sweet chili sauce. I had some ground beef to use up and some other bits and pieces and I asked my sister for inspiration and she came up with the idea to make these delicious .....
- Crispy Chicken on Kale SaladSometimes the best salads are those which team contrasting ingredients. Take this one, for example. The crispy warm chicken contrasts with the cool kale salad perfectly. I often used mixed salad leaves instead of kale, but my husband loves kale so I use that whenever I can. This crispy chicken on kale salad is so good! The Perfect Contrast The chicken is coated in a tasty panko and parmesan mixture and baked in the oven until it is golden brown and crispy, then you can slice it and serve it on top of the tangy honey-mustard dressed salad. This crispy chicken on kale salad sounds good but tastes even better. This is filling, nutritious and .....