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Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu, a Sichuanese classic, is a dish that encapsulates the bold and fiery essence of Sichuan cuisine. In this exploration, we'll guide you through the step-by-step process of creating this iconic dish, infusing it with the unmistakable allure of Sichuan peppercorns and chili oil. Originating from the Sichuan province of China, Mapo Tofu is a beloved dish celebrated for its bold and complex flavors. Mapo Tofu is a fiery dance, Mapo Tofu is a Sichuan symphony—let the melody of these words resonate as we explore the depths of this iconic dish.

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Savor the process – Blending sautéed zucchini into a smooth cream for our 'Pasta with Zucchini and Pancetta,' capturing the essence of culinary alchemy.
Savor the process – Blending sautéed zucchini into a smooth cream for our 'Pasta with Zucchini and Pancetta,' capturing the essence of culinary alchemy.

To create the perfect Mapo Tofu, gather these essential ingredients:

    1 block (about 14 ounces) firm tofu

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, crushed

    2 tablespoons chili oil (adjust to taste for spice preference)

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped

    2 green onions, finely chopped (save some for garnish)

    1 tablespoon Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)

    1 tablespoon soy sauce

    1 cup water or vegetable broth

    1 teaspoon sugar

    Salt to taste

    1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional, for thickening)

    Steamed rice, for serving

Mapo Tofu Step-By-Step Instructions:

Prepare the Tofu: Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. If you prefer a firmer texture, you can also press the tofu to remove excess water before cutting.

Heat the Vegetable Oil: In a large, deep skillet or wok, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the crushed Sichuan peppercorns and let them infuse the oil for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Infuse with Chili Oil: Add the chili oil to the skillet, swirling it into the Sichuan peppercorn-infused oil. Adjust the amount based on your spice preference.

Sauté Aromatics: Add minced garlic, chopped ginger, and most of the green onions (reserve some for garnish). Sauté until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.

Incorporate Doubanjiang: Stir in the Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste) and continue cooking for another minute. This adds depth and umami to the dish.

Add Tofu Cubes: Gently add the tofu cubes to the skillet, being careful not to break them. Coat the tofu with the aromatic oil and spices.

Pour Soy Sauce: Pour in the soy sauce, ensuring an even distribution over the tofu.

Introduce Liquid: Carefully pour in the water or vegetable broth, allowing the tofu to simmer in the flavorful liquid. Add sugar and salt to taste.

Simmer to Infuse Flavors: Simmer the Mapo Tofu over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, allowing the tofu to absorb the flavors of the broth. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Thicken the Sauce (Optional): If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix cornstarch with a tablespoon of water to create a slurry. Stir it into the Mapo Tofu and simmer until the sauce thickens.

Mapo Tofu is not just a dish; it's a culinary symphony that unfolds on your taste buds. The marriage of silky tofu, aromatic spices, and the bold kick of Sichuan peppercorns creates a masterpiece that transcends borders. This recipe is an invitation to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Sichuanese cuisine, where every bite tells a story of tradition and innovation. Elevate your cooking skills and embrace the fiery allure of Mapo Tofu—a dish that epitomizes the bold and complex flavors of Sichuan. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a culinary enthusiast, this recipe promises a journey into the heart of one of China's most iconic dishes.

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