Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) is my first love in Chinese food. When I first heard of it a long time ago, I thought it was originated from Korea. Because the name “Mapo” sounded same as the name of the area in Seoul called Mapo-gu. LOL!!! I was just an innocent girl who didn’t know much about the global food at that time.
Well, to clarify it…, Mapo tofu is not from Seoul. As far as I know it is from Sichuan province of China. I think there are several versions of how this delicious tofu recipe has originated. But one thing that says the same is the person who made it first.
People called her Jin Ma Po (陣麻婆); an old lady (Po) named Jin (as a last name) with pockmark (Ma) on her face. The legend told us that she was poor but a very kind cook. She owned an oil shop. When she became a widow, village people helped her out by bringing meats and tofu to her. She made delicious tofu dish by using the gift she got with her oil. She wanted to show her gratitude so she started to serve her tofu dish to the people. People who tasted it, loved it. The lady decided to open a restaurant with her tofu recipe and people called it Mapo Tofu ever since to remember her.
I have my beautiful tofu with me and I am so excited to make my way of Mapo tofu. In fact, I get excited whenever I make any Chinese food.
The best texture of the tofu in this recipe is not the super firm tofu nor the silken tofu. Slightly soft tofu will bring a better result. If you have Sichuan peppercorn, that would be the best choice. But I used black peppercorn instead because that’s what I had.
Season the pork with sou sauce, rice wine, garlic, and ginger.
For the tofu, Cube it up!
Chop it up!
Pre-boil the tofu. Why? It will help to firm up on the surface a bit so that they don’t break easily. You can skip this if you don’t care.
Mix doubanjiang with oyster sauce, garlic, and etc.
Crack the black peppercorn with the side of your knife.
Heat oil with dried chilies and peppercorn. Add more heat? sprinkle some Korean chili flakes. That will make this dish super-extra spicy~!
Throw chopped green onion!
and the pork! Stir-fry until pork is no longer in pink.
Add the sauce…
… and the tofu cubes. Stir-fry again for 1 minute. Pour some chicken stock. Bring to boil and cook in med-low heat for 3 minutes.
Mix cornstarch with some water and pour in the skillet. This will thicken the sauce nicely.
Wow~! I have to tell you that the dried chilies are spicier than fresh chilies. This doesn’t look like so evilly red, but there is a plenty of heat in one bite.
The doubanjiang paste flavors the dish very nicely. No wonder Mapo tofu, along with other Sichuan style dishes, is so popular in Korea.
As you can see, it is not so difficult to make at all. So next time if you get hold of a package of tofu, you better try out Mapo tofu as long as you can take the heat.
- 1/2 lb minced pork
- 1 package tofu not silken, sliced into cubes
- 3 tablespoon grapeseed oil or peanut oil
- 2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn or black peppercorn crushed
- 4 dried chilies
- 1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes optional
- 3 green onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoon doubanjiang Chinese chili ban paste
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon water
- Combine pork with rice wine, soy sauce, and 1/2 tablespoon of garlic. Mix well and set aside.
- Boil a pot of water with a little bit of salt, and blanch the tofu cubes for 1-2 minutes. Drain and set aside; this is an optional step to firm up the surface of tofu so that they don't break easily when stir-fried.
- In a small mixing bowl combine doubanjiang, oyster sauce, sugar, rest of the garlic, ginger. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat a wok or skillet over med-high heat. Add oil, dried chili, Korean chili flakes (if using for extra heat), and crushed peppercorns. Sitr-fry for 10 seconds. Add the green onion, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the pork and stir-fry untio they are no longer in pink.
- Add the doubanjiang mixture to the pork and stir well. Pour the chicken stock and bring to boil, then simmer for 3 minutes. Combine cornstarch with water in a small bowl and pour over the tofu. Cook for 1-2 more minutes until thickened. Serve over steamed rice.