Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) is a classic Sichuan dish, and our most requested recipe. It's spicy and zingy with a deep earthy sauce made from doubanjiang (Pixian chilii bean paste), fermented black beans, and chili oil. You can make this dish vegan by omitting the meat or subbing with chopped up mushrooms. This is ultra comfort food, and relatively healthy too, with plenty of protein and fermented ingredients.
Chen Yu Chao, the maker of our Su Chili Crisp, provided this family recipe—his grandmother lived in the Sichuan province before emigrating to Taiwan in the 1940s. This version is especially convenient. It calls for our bottled chili crisp, saving a lot of work (and clean up). Normally, I'd caution against using pre-made chili crisp, but ours is additive free and made very fresh. Even as a seasoned Chinese cook, I admit it's better than anything I could make myself, even with considerable effort. Su chili crisp also doesn't have any added salt or sugar, so you can easily adjust the spice level without affecting the saltiness or sweetness of the dish.
Serve with steamed rice and a simple green vegetable, like stir fried pea tips with garlic or blanched chinese broccoli with soy paste.
Serves 2 as a main or 4 if presenting with a few other dishes.
- 600g / 21oz, medium firm tofu
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Su Chili Crisp (stir before scooping)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 100g / 3.5oz minced pork (not too lean), or chopped mushrooms for a vegan version
- 2 tablespoons Pixian chilli bean paste (doubanjiang)
- 1 tablespoon Yun Hai fermented black beans (if using a store-bought brand, you may need to rinse and soak, ours are already plump and juicy.)
- 2 cups water or stock
- starch & water mixture 1: 1 tbsp corn starch, mixed with 2 tbsp water
- starch & water mixture 2: 1 tbsp corn starch, mixed with 1 tbsp water
- 1-2 stalks of spring onion, thinly sliced on the bias
- Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes. Place the tofu into a saucepan and cover with cold water and add salt. Bring to a boil. After two minutes, drain and set aside. This sets the texture of the tofu.
- Heat the oil in the wok until shimmering. Sizzle ginger for a few seconds, then stir fry the pork or mushrooms until brown and crispy. The meat will initially release a good amount of water, let the moisture cook off and the pork will begin to crisp up.
- Add Su Chili Crisp, doubanjiang, and fermented black beans. Stir fry until it smells great..
- Add 2 cups of water or stock to the wok and bring to a boil. Slide in drained tofu. Leave to simmer (uncovered) until the volume of the liquid reduces by half.
- Add starch & water mixture 1 into the wok. Simmer for 10 seconds. Add starch & water mixture 2. Simmer until the sauce is thickened.
- Turn out into a serving dish and garnish with spring onion.