Sichuan Mapo Tofu (Má Pó Dòufu)
What I can say about this dish other than it was born in Sichuan (Szechuan)-Chinese province; however this dish spread and became popular across other Chinese provinces and the Northeastern Asia– Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, where the flavor is adapted to local tastes.
I absolutely love Ma Po Tofu. It is perfect blend, perfect taste, and makes an amazing meal especially who loves spicy and if you combine it with egg noodles or rice it will ease the burning mouth.
Originally I found the recipe in one of my favorite cookbook Lemongrass and Ginger by Leemei Tan–Can I just say that I carried this book everywhere I went that’s how much I enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.
As I typed in the search box “Ma Po Tofu” hundreds of recipes came up… that is a power of Internet! The more I read, the more interesting it got…the history, the stories, recipes, Sichuan peppercorn US ban, est…I mean you learn something every single day. I will skip all those because you can easily find it online how this dish got its legendary name (ma麻 means pockmarked , po 婆 – elderly women, doufu豆腐 -tofu).
slightly adapted from Lemongrass and Ginger
- 1 pk. Silken or Firm Tofu-Preferably Organic, cut into cubes
- 1/2 tsp. Sesame Oil
- 1/2 in piece fresh Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 Lb. Ground Lean beef or Pork (Turkey or mixture of two could be used)
- 2 tsp. Chili Bean Paste (doubanjiang)
- 1 Tbs. Soy sauce
- 1/2 Tbs. Oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp. Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Beef Broth or Water
- 1/4 tsp. Sichuan Peppercorn, grounded (or to your heat preferences)
- 1 tsp. Cornstarch + water
- 2-3 Scallions, chopped
- Red Peppers for garnish
Serve it with Rice or Egg Noodles
- Heat the pot of water, take off the burner and gently drop the cubed Tofu in; Keep it in the hot water until ready to use.
- Heat the Wok (or frying pan) with sesame oil, and put garlic and ginger; stir-fry just for few seconds and until fragrant and don NOT let it burn (so medium heat is fine)
- Add ground beef or pork, and while you stir fry it break the lumps; Cook until it start to brown.
- Add the chili bean paste, soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, toasted and then grounded Sichuan pepper mix it all together and add 1/2 cup beef broth–boil for next 5 minutes on high temperature.
- Turn down a heat and with spider draining spoon remove tofu from water and drop in the wok( or you can also gently drain the water out).
- Gently move the wok left and right motion without stir frying, if you try to stir fry tofu will fall apart.
- Combine cornstarch with a bit of water, mix until smooth and slowly pour over the tofu and ground beef mixture. Again gently mix it in with back and forward motion trying not to break the tofu.
- Sprinkle chopped scallions, and you can add more when the dish is served.
- Serve it hot with rice or egg noddles.
- Sichuan peppercorns are not related in any way to black peppercorns, therefor they should not be confused one for another. Sichuan peppercorns belong to rue or citrus family. They have a unique aroma and gives you numbness in the mouth. Most of the times seedpods should be toasted and grounded/crushed and often added in the recipe the last minute. You can find them in Chinese markets, Asian markets and/or online.
- Mapo Tofu is nothing without a second star(ingredient) of this dish Chili Bean Paste or Doubanjiang (Làjiāo-Chili dòubàn jiàng-bean paste). Read more HERE about it!