Mapo Tofu recipe

Mapo Tofu is a classic Sichuan dish that has gained popularity worldwide for its bold and spicy flavors. This mouthwatering dish combines soft tofu, ground meat, and a rich and spicy sauce. If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine or looking to explore new flavors, this easy Mapo Tofu recipe is perfect for you. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of preparing this delicious dish, ensuring you achieve a spicy and flavorful result.

What is Mapo Tofu?

Mapo Tofu is a traditional Chinese dish originating from Sichuan province. It consists of soft tofu cubes cooked in a spicy sauce, typically made with chili bean paste, minced meat (usually pork or beef), garlic, and ginger. The dish is characterized by its bold flavors and the numbing sensation provided by Sichuan peppercorns. Despite its simplicity, Mapo Tofu offers a complex and satisfying taste experience.


To make Mapo Tofu, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 block of soft tofu
  • 200 grams of ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons of chili bean paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped (for garnish)
  • Steamed rice (to serve)

Make sure to gather all the ingredients before you begin cooking.

Preparing the Ingredients

Before you start cooking, it’s important to prepare the ingredients properly. Follow these steps:

  1. Cut the tofu into small cubes and set aside.
  2. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger.
  3. Finely chop the green onions for garnish.

Having your ingredients prepped and ready will make the cooking process smoother and more enjoyable.

Cooking the Mapo Tofu

Now let’s dive into the cooking process:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir-fry for a minute until fragrant.
  3. Add the ground pork and cook until it’s no longer pink and slightly browned.
  4. Stir in the chili bean paste and mix well with the pork.
  5. Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and bring it to a simmer.
  6. Gently slide the tofu cubes into the wok, being careful not to break them.
  7. Let the tofu cook for about 5 minutes in the simmering sauce.
  8. Stir in the soy sauce and the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce.
  9. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  10. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped green onions.

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Serving Suggestions

Mapo Tofu is best enjoyed with steamed rice. Serve the tofu and sauce over a bed of fluffy rice, allowing the flavors to meld together. You can also serve it as a side dish alongside other Chinese dishes. The spiciness of Mapo Tofu pairs well with milder dishes, providing a balanced and satisfying meal.

Tips and Variations

  • If you prefer a vegetarian version, you can substitute the ground pork with diced mushrooms or textured vegetable protein (TVP).
  • Adjust the spiciness level according to your taste by adding more or less chili bean paste.
  • For an extra kick, sprinkle some crushed Sichuan peppercorns on top before serving.
  • Customize the dish by adding vegetables like bell peppers or green beans for added texture and flavor.

Health Benefits of Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu not only satisfies your taste buds but also offers several health benefits. Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein and is low in saturated fat. It also provides essential nutrients such as iron and calcium. The dish is also rich in aromatic spices like ginger and garlic, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, be mindful of the sodium content in the soy sauce and chili bean paste if you’re watching your sodium intake.


In conclusion, Mapo Tofu is a delicious and spicy Chinese dish that is sure to impress your taste buds. With this easy recipe, you can recreate the flavors of Sichuan cuisine in your own kitchen. The combination of soft tofu, ground meat, and the bold flavors of the sauce make for a memorable dining experience. So why not give it a try and embark on a culinary adventure?

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  1. Is Mapo Tofu very spicy?
    • Mapo Tofu is known for its spiciness. However, you can adjust the spiciness level according to your preference by adding more or less chili bean paste.
  2. Can I make Mapo Tofu without meat?
    • Yes, you can make a vegetarian version of Mapo Tofu by substituting the ground pork with diced mushrooms or textured vegetable protein (TVP).
  3. What is the numbing sensation in Mapo Tofu?
    • The numbing sensation in Mapo Tofu is caused by Sichuan peppercorns. It adds a unique and distinctive flavor to the dish.
  4. Can I freeze leftovers of Mapo Tofu?
    • Yes, you can freeze leftovers of Mapo Tofu. Allow it to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container and placing it in the freezer. It can be stored for up to 3 months.
  5. What can I serve with Mapo Tofu?
    • Mapo Tofu is best served with steamed rice. You can also serve it as a side dish alongside other Chinese dishes.

By Susie Schmidt

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