Classic Mapo Tofu Recipe
This mapo tofu recipe will satisfy a spicy Sichuan province tofu dish craving. Ground pork and soft tofu cubes are seasoned with Chinese doubanjiang paste and Sichua peppercorn. It’s a signature Chinese tofu recipe that everyone should try.
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 young girl who didn’t know much about Chinese food at the time.
Well, to clarify it, mapo tofu is not from Seoul. It is from the Sichuan province of China. I think there are several legends of how this delicious mapo tofu recipe is originated. But one thing that most agree is the person who created it first.
History of Mapo Tofu
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 block of 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 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.
How to make Sichuan Mapo Tofu Recipe
Season ground pork Mix the pork with soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, and ginger in small bowl; set aside.
Cube your tofu. Cut into about 3/4-inch in size.
Boil the tofu before adding to the recipe. 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 wish.
Make mapo tofu sauce. Mix doubanjiang paste with oyster sauce, garlic, and ginger.
Crack the peppercorn Use the side of your knife and crack the peppercorn. If you don’t have whole peppercorn, you can use peppercorn powder.
Make chili oil. Heat dried chilies and peppercorn in vegetable oil. Want to add more heat? You can also use a storebought chili oil or sprinkle some Korean chili flakes. That will make this dish extra spicy!
Add green onion. This will give a nice onion-y fragrance.
Stir-fry pork. Add pork and stir-fry until pork is no longer in pink.
Add mapo tofu sauce. Stir well
Add the tofu and chicken stock. Stir-fry tofu cubes in the sauce for 1 minute. Pour some chicken stock. Bring to boil and cook in med-low heat for 3 minutes.
Thicken the sauce. Mix cornstarch with some water and pour in the skillet. This will thicken the sauce nicely. You can drizzle a little bit of sesame oil at the end but that is optional. (I prefer not to)
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 the dish.
The doubanjiang paste flavors the tofu 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.
Classic Mapo Tofu Recipe
- 1/2 lb minced pork
- 1 lb soft tofu (not silken), sliced into cubes
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil or peanut oil
- 2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn or black peppercorn, crushed
- 4 dried chilies
- 1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), optional
- 3 green onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sweet rice wine (mirim)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoon Sichuan chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
- 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. Add tofu and 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.